Niger has voted to allow President Mamadou Tandja to remain in power beyond the end of his term, the country's electoral agency announced Friday. The final results of the referendum still need to be validated by the constitutional court.
AFP - Niger's people have enabled President Mamadou Tandja to stay in power beyond the end of his term by agreeing to change the constitution in a referendum, the electoral agency announced on Friday.
The "yes" votes accounted for 92.5 percent of the results in Tuesday's controversial referendum in which turnout was 68.26 percent, the head of the electoral agency, Moumouni Hamidou, said.
"We are going to give immediately these global provisional results that we have just proclaimed to the Constitutional Court, which according to the electoral law, has eight days to examine and proclaim them," Hamidou said.
A total of 4.1 million people voted in the referendum out of six million registered, he said.
Niger voted on the adoption of a new constitution which would allow the president, in power since 1999, to remain in office beyond the December 22 end of his tenure, and thereafter seek limitless mandates.
Tandja, 71, has consistently claimed that his bid to cling to power is to fulfil "the will of the people."
The opposition which has denounced the vote as Tandja's "coup d'Etat," had called for a boycott of the exercise.
The international community has also expressed its concern over the exercise.
The Coordination of Democratic Forces for the Republic (CFDR), which groups opposition parties and unions, said Thursday in a statement that the vote attracted only a "less that five percent participation rate.
The parliament and the constitutional court, which Tandja later dissolved, had earlier slammed the referendum.
To achieve his aim, the retired colonel, declared an emergency and began to rule by decree and appointed a new constitutional court which will now ratify the result of the referendum within eight days.
Date created : 2009-08-07