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Niger Opposition Vows to Resist Tandja’s ‘Monarchy’ Grab

Niger's opposition parties have vowed to resist a reported attempt by President Mamadou Tandja to install his son as a member of parliament.

The opposition parties argue that Tandja's son, who is 37 years old, is being groomed to replace his father.

This comes after President Tandja amended the constitution adding three years to his term. The opposition contends that after the three years, Tandja's son will reach the constitutionally mandated age of 40 to qualify for a presidential bid.

But the government dismissed the accusation as baseless.Former legislatorAbdullahi Jauri was just released from detention after opposing the new constitution. He told VOA that Tandja wants to turn Niger into a monarchy.

"If it will be confirmed, then that will be the starting of the confirmation of the monarchy because after three years, the boy will now be 40 years, so he can be ready by law to contest (for the presidency). That is the bonus of three years he (Tandja) gave himself," Jauri said.

He said the opposition will keep on fighting against the controversial constitution.

"We are contesting the whole fixed constitution. So the whole opposition, nobody is going to contest (the upcoming election) because it is not a free and fair election. Everything is ready made. You know already who will be elected to (represent) the constituency… like they did at the referendum," he said.

Jauri said opponents will refuse to participate in a "charade" of an election.

"There is no point to go and spend your money and energy for nothing. But we will continue to fight for the right of democracy (that was) given us," Jauri said.

He said despite arrests, former legislators are determined to return to parliament.

"We are going to open parliament because that is one of the reasons he (Tandja) came and arrested all the former members of the parliament… to (prevent) this ceremony. Whether he will take us to jail or whatever, we will still put back this parliament because he has not respected the constitution," he said.

Jauri said the opposition would be meeting today to decide the next line of action.

"We are going to now have an extraordinary meeting of the civil society and the political parties, and we will see the step we are going to take forward. As early as today, we will determine what actions we are going to (take)," Jauri said.

He said the opposition is determined not to fight to protect the rights and the freedoms for all Nigeriens.