A leading opposition member has welcomed President Barack Obama’s letter to President Mamadou Tandja asking for more democratic reforms ahead of Friday’s 51st anniversary of Niger becoming a republic.
Abdul-Aziz Amadou said President Obama’s message strengthens the opposition’s demand for democratic reforms.
“The message tells the Niger people that they are on the right side of the truth. And that they are fighting for the freedom, justice and liberty and (that) is what everybody is aspiring (to). What Africa needs is to develop and come out of the darkness that we’ve been living in and to kind of recover our dignity. So, it’s a fresh air to get this letter from President Obama,” he said.
President Obama’s message to Niger’s embattled leader said “America looks forward to the day when Niger can celebrate both the proclamation of the republic and its firm transition to democracy”.
The opposition coalition has agreed to hold a regional block’s mediated talks in Niger after months of disagreement over the venue.
The former Nigerian President, Abdulsalami Abubakar was chosen by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to mediate the talks between the government and the opposition to resolve the political crisis.
Amadou said President Obama’s message boosts the opposition’s stance in the upcoming negotiations with the government.
“ECOWAS also knows that Niger is violating all the protocols that they had (previously abided by) in the past…people don’t understand that he (President Tandja) advised some other countries to go to democracy, (but) he himself is going against his own guideline,” Amadou said.
President Tandja has come under international criticism after extending his term limits, which was scheduled to expire this month.