A prominent member of Niger?s Consultative Council said the country?s political parties will soon begin official campaigning ahead of next year?s presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 31st January.
Bazoum Mohammed, who is also vice president of the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS-Tarayya), the country?s biggest political party, told VOA there is unanimous agreement among all political parties to ensure the elections are credible.
?For the local (election), the campaigning will begin on the 30th of this month and we will have one week of campaigning. And, for the presidential and parliamentary election, it will begin on the 9th of January and we will have three weeks for the campaigning.?
This came after Niger?s Constitutional Court approved 10 presidential candidates to participate in the vote.
The presidential aspirants approved by the court include former Prime Minister Hama Amadou of the Nigerien Democratic Movement (MDN), Mahamane Ousmane of the Niger Progressive Party (CDS), Mahamadou Issoufou of the PNDS-Tarayya party, as well as Bayard Mariama Gamatie, the country?s first female presidential aspirant.
The presidential election will return Niger to constitutional rule after the military removed former President Mamadou Tandja from power in February.
Mr. Tandja drew sharp criticism from the international community after he amended the constitution to extend his mandate after serving two consecutive five-year terms as allowed in the constitution.
Mohammed said Nigeriens are excited about the prospects of voting in a democratic election to choose their own leaders.
?Nigeriens are very happy to have (a) free election and they are confident in the electoral commission. And, we think that everything will go (smoothly) and we are very confident in our (country?s) future. We think that we will have new and stable institutions, (which) will be good for our country,? said Mohammed.
He further said that the country lost its place within the international community after the coup d?état.
?Niger has been excluded from many regional and international institutions. And now, when we have (restored) the rule of law, we know that we will be accepted everywhere,? said Mohammed.