Campaigning is under way in Niger for legislative elections that are being boycotted by the country's main opposition parties because President Mamadou Tandja has changed the constitution to extend his time in office.
Having secured another three years in office and the constitutional authority to run again if he likes, President Tandja is looking to October's legislative election to solidify his hold on power.
Opening campaigning for that election, President Tandja says it is an opportunity for voters to chose freely and responsibly those who they think are most capable of truthfully fulfilling their aspirations.
After what he calls historic levels of participation in the constitutional referendum that extended his time in office, President Tandja is calling for massive participation in the legislative elections, saying that will confirm voters' support for the new republic created by the new constitution.
Most of the 20 political parties fielding candidates for the 113 parliamentary seats are allies of the president as opponents of his referendum are boycotting the vote.
An alliance of leading opposition parties, human rights activists and trade unions said it will "not endorse any election organized on the basis of the new constitution."
Alat Mogaskiya is one of the founders of Niger's Party for Democracy and Socialism.
Mogaskiya says you can see that there are a great number of new political parties not previously known to the public. He says they want to profit from the absence of the main opposition parties in this election. Mogaskiya says his party will not take part in a vote that he says is a farce and is calling on its supporters not to recognize the authority of any institutions created by the new constitution.
Mogaskiya says is has always been either Niger's Supreme Court or its Constitutional Court that publishes the list of candidates. If some candidates are disqualified, the court explains its motives for the disqualification. This is the first time that candidate lists are being issued by the Interior Ministry.
President Tandja says the people of Niger want him to stay on beyond what would have been the end of his last term in December so he can finish several big projects including a Chinese oil refinery and a French uranium mine.
President Tandja says voters should elect men and women who are capable of making a quality contribution to reforms necessary to increasing the prosperity of Niger and its people.
This is a vote to replace the legislature that Mr. Tandja dismissed when it opposed his referendum. Campaigning for the October 20 election ends October 18.