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Niger opposition accuses president of coup

Niger opposition accuses president of coup

Niger's main opposition leader expressed outrage Tuesday over the president's disbanding of the country's constitutional court, calling the move equivalent to a coup.
Taking advantage of emergency powers he assumed last week, President Mamadou Tandja issued a decree late Monday dissolving the court, which had rejected his bid to hold a referendum to change the constitution so he could extend his time in office.
Tandja's decree calls for the appointment of a new court composed of seven members, three of whom will be appointed by him and a fourth who will be appointed in consultation with him.
"Niger is no longer a state of laws," opposition leader Mahamadou Issoufou told reporters. "We are calling on all our supporters to use legal means to resist this coup d'etat."
Issoufou said a spokesman for the opposition coalition, Morou Amadou, was arrested by police overnight.
The events are the latest in the country's ongoing power struggle as Tandja nears the end of his second, five-year term. According to the constitution, he must step down. But Tandja has been trying to impose a referendum, which would allow voters a chance to change the law so as to allow him a third term.
The constitutional court ruled that his plan for a referendum was illegal.
Also on Monday, the private radio station "Dounia" was shut down by the government after broadcasting an appeal made by Issoufou to the country's army to stop obeying Tandja. Soon after, the armed forces released a statement saying that they remain neutral in the face of the crisis.
After decades of strongman rule, Africa's experiment with democracy is still young. Often even democratically elected leaders _ like Tandja _ find it difficult to cede power at the end of their constitutionally delineated term. A common strategy for staying in power is trying to change the constitution, either to allow an extra term or else to extend the length of each period in office.


Updated : 2021-07-30 06:34 GMT+08:00