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President names new court to pave way for third term

Video by Jean-Rémy BAUDOT , Luke BROWN

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-07-03

Niger's President Mamadou Tandja named new members to the constitutional court after having dissolved the previous court on Monday. The old court had ruled three times against his bid to hold a referendum on whether he could serve a third term.

AFP - Niger's president Mamadou Tandja has named new members of the constitutional court, after having dissolved the previous court -- a move that triggered global criticism.
   
Former justice minister Boube Oumarou will head the seven-strong court, which includes four magistrates, one lawyer and a university professor, following the nominations made late Wednesday.
   
Tandja on Monday said he had dissolved the previous court, which has ruled against him three times in his bid to hold a referendum to decide whether he can run for a third mandate.
   
The 71-year-old retired army colonel dissolved parliament, which also opposed his plan, in May.
   

Tandja has pressed ahead with his plan to hold a referendum to decide the question, despite the constitutional court having ruled it illegal, and despite growing international criticism of his position.
   
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, through his spokeswoman in New York, said the Niger government's actions had "made it extremely difficult for the country's democratic institutions and the Constitutional Court to play their roles as guarantors of the rule of law".
   
Ban called "for restraint and political dialogue to resolve the crisis."
   
In Washington, the White House accused Tandja of seeking "to rule by ordinance and decree ... as part of a bid to retain power beyond his constitutionally-limited mandate".
   
"These decisions undermine Niger's efforts over the last 10 years to advance good governance and the rule of law," it said in a statement.
   
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, on a trip to Senegal, earlier called the situation in Niger "dangerous".
 

Date created : 2009-07-03

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