A number of Niger opposition parties are refusing to participate in discussions organized by President Mamadou Tandja's government that are scheduled to begin Thursday.<!-- IMAGE -->
Prime Minister Seini Oumarou invited the opposition to a dialogue aimed at resolving the ongoing political crisis.
But the opposition described the invitation as yet another ploy to deceive the international community, a charge the government denies.
Bazoum Mohammed, vice president of the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) said that the opposition will only negotiate with the government under the mediation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
"This meeting is called (at) the CNDP (National Council for Political Dialogue). But we …up this council in 2004…it was used for a dialogue in a normal situation. But…since the decision of Tandja to not leave power…Niger is in great crisis," Mohammed said.
He said the government is not interested in resolving the crisis.
"We have to discuss with the government about this crisis (but) not to have another dialogue on other matters that are not (part) of this crisis. It is why we won't attend today the meeting they called," he said.
Mohammed said potential discussions with the government should be about the resolution of the political crisis.
"For us the only discussion we must have today or another day is about this political crisis and the only discussion should be about this matter and not another," Mohammed said.<!-- IMAGE -->
He described the government's invitation as a façade.
"We cannot go today because they want to show to the international community and especially to ECOWAS that there is no crisis in Niger and they want to have the proof that everything is alright in our country. That we have our own dialogue and we don't need another dialogue and the mediation of ECOWAS," he said.
Mohammed said the opposition will only negotiate with the government under the regional body's supervision.
"If there would be any discussion with us and this government, it will be towards ECOWAS mediation," Mohammed said.
He said the opposition will attend the ECOWAS meeting in neighboring Nigeria about the crisis in Niger.<!-- IMAGE -->
"We expect to have a good meeting in Abuja next week. It is scheduled for Wednesday…and we expect to have a good mediation and a good dialogue with Mr. Tandja's government on issues that are very relevant issues," he said.
Mohammed dismissed the recent referendum that extended President Tandja's term for three additional years.
"We do not recognize the referendum result. For (us) on 22nd December this year, Mr. Tandja has to go," Mohammed said.
President Tandja has refused to step down despite coming under local and international pressure after he changed the constitution.
The constitutional amendment adds three additional years to his already two-term limit which expires on December 22nd this year.<!-- IMAGE -->