Niger President defies all to remain in power

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The opposition in the west African country have unabatedly continued their demonstrations against Mamadou Tandja. Despite a rather unsuccessful day of demonstrations in Niamey, the capital of Niger, Wednesday, themed “dead country”, opposition members wwill not give up. They are counting on the international community to discourage the Head of State from seeking a third term in office.

The “dead country day” was far from successful. A plea to the people of Niger made by the country’s opposition and trade unions to denounce the anti-democratic stance of President Tandja almost fell on deaf ears. Most shops stayed open on Wednesday in Niamey. This situation, however, does not seem to bother the opposition.

“The action plan was launched on Monday after the dissolution of the Constitutional Court. It was a spontaneous call, and Nigeriens did not have ample time to organize themselves” Issifou Sidibé, Secretary General of the Democratic Confederation of Nigerien Workers (CDTN) and member Democratic Defense Front (FDD) told “More mobilizations and consultations are expected in the next few days,” he continued with confidence.

“If the president flouts the law to remain in power, nothing compels us to remain in the legal framework”

Despite numerous arrests, the opposition remains active and does not exclude the possibility of departing from the legal framework to block the president’s illegal plot. “If the president is flouting the law to remain in power, nothing compels us to remain in the legal framework either,” says the CDTN general secretary.

Tuesday evening, the FDD president, Mamadou Issoufou was briefly arrested and questioned by the police on recent statements made by the opposition demanding the police to disobey orders from President Mamadou Tandja, one of the opposition leader’s close allies told AFP. The questioning took place shortly after FDD spokesman, Marou Amadou was taken into custody. “He is trying to intimidate us (…), but he won’t stop us” Issoufou Sidibé affirmed.


Tension was high between the opposition and the ruling government Sunday, after a speech made by the country’s Interior Minister. Allada Abouba announced that a referendum on a new fundamental law will be held, totally desregarding a Constitutional Court ruling. “The two sides look determined to pursue their agenda to the very end,“ says Tidjani Mahaman Alou, a political scientist with the Laboratory of studies and researches in social dynamics and local development(LASDEL).

The opposition, though, seems to have gained an advantage over Mamadou Tandja. After the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the European Community (EC) and France have broken their silence and condemned the Nigerien President’s unconstitutional bid. However, their statements do not seem to carry the weight they should.

In fact, they are almost hesitant. Whilst Europe is threatening to review its cooperation with Niamey, Paris, meanwhile, is only worried about “president Tandja’s decision to dissolve the Nigerien Constitutional Court, as it constitutes a negative signal for the country’s democracy and stability.”

The United States has also issued a statement in which it raises concerns “about the recent actions of Niger’s President Mamadou Tandja to rule by ordinance and decree and to dissolve the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court as part of a bid to retain power beyond his constitutionally-limited mandate.” “These decisions” according to the statement “undermine Niger’s efforts over the last ten years to advance good governance and the rule of law”.

Barack Obama’s administration has vowed to “continue to consult” with their “partners in the region and monitor the situation in Niger closely.”

In the meantime, as the opposition hopes for tougher reactions from the international community, the FDD and the two other opposition parties are doing everything in their power to stop Mamadou Tandja, the man who wants to breach all laws just to stay in power.

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