Ruling party sweeps to victory in controversial poll

The ruling party of President Mamadou Tandja has won a clear majority in a parliamentary vote largely boycotted by the opposition. The election was organised in defiance of international calls for a postponement.


AFP - The ruling party of President Mamadou Tandja swept the majority of seats in legislative elections shunned by the opposition, according to partial results from the electoral commission.

Of the 100 constituencies so far reporting, Tandja's party won 68, head of the national independence electoral commission Moumouni Hamidou said on state television.

In all, 113 seats were up for grabs in the Tuesday elections that angered Niger's neighbours and the international community who had urged a delay in favour of dialogue.

Four small parties aligned to Tandja's regime took 21 seats among them, while 11 went to independent candidates.

Critics see the legislative poll as helping Tandja, 71, to potentially stay in office for the rest of his life in this uranium-producing west African country.

Tandja organised the election in defiance of regional and international calls for a postponement, to replace a parliament he dissolved in June after it opposed his plans to extend his term beyond the 10-year limit.

The regional grouping, the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) immediately kicked out poverty-stricken Niger from membership in a show of disapproval at Tandja's insistence on holding the election.

Tanja's stance has also infuriated Niger's main aid donor, the European Union, which on Thursday repeated its threat to sever ties to pressure Niamey to restore constitutional order.

The results so far showed turn-out of between 18 and 80 percent, depending on different constituencies.

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