In Niger, the chief
supporter of President Mamadou Tandja's term limit extension is confident that
Tuesday's referendum will proceed despite threats of disruption from the
Alhaji Mahamadou Abubakar's pronouncement comes after official
campaigning ahead of the referendum ended Sunday.
Tandja, whose second five-year term ends in December, wants to change the
constitution to extend his rule for three more years.
parties sharply condemn the referendum and accuse Tandja of subverting the
constitution, an action they describe as a coup d'état.
Chief supporter Alhaji
Mahamadou Abubakar told VOA that Nigeriens will vote
overwhelmingly in favor of President Tandja's term limit extension.
is ready and everybody is happy to see that day… I'm very sure major people are
ready… because I made my rounds and (came to the conclusion) that people are
very, very ready," Abubakar
Abubakar said he is backing
the president's term limit extension despite coming under enormous personal
"I am the one who started
that… (Calling for term limit extension) without any help from any side. When I
started, everybody thought I was crazy… but I am very happy," Abubakar said.
He said the will of the
people forced the president to go ahead with Tuesday's referendum.
"Tandja is ready, why?
Because he is following what the people like. He cannot say no because he is
the president for the population (and) what the people like, he (Tandja)
likes," he said.
Abubakar described the
opposition as not having good intentions for the ordinary Nigerien.
"Niger's opposition, nobody
has love for the country, nobody likes the country to go (forward). Everybody
likes for their pocket, and they like to be big multi-billionaires. It is not
to help the country, and it is not to help the poor people," Abubakar said.
He said President Tandja
enjoys popular support because of his policies geared towards alleviating the
suffering of the average Nigerien.
"Tandja is a very nice
president with the poor people. And the constitution has given him right…so
what the people like that is what the president will do," he said.
Abubakar said President
Tandja should be allowed to finish the good works of rebuilding the country
that he started.
But some political observers
say Tandja's planned referendum has plunged the country in a deep political
crisis. To hold the controversial poll, Tandja, has dissolved both parliament
and the Constitutional Court.
The opposition has voiced outrage and is
threatening to stage a coup and use all legal means to prevent the
The opposition has vowed to
thwart the upcoming referendum despite alleged government arrest threats.