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Niger votes on new charter as prelude to election

October 31, 2010 - NIGER

The constitutional referendum in uranium-rich but dirt-poor Niger follows a military coup on 18 Feb in which President Mamadou Tandja, who ruled for 10 years and was seeking to extend his term, was deposed. The 130 constitutional amendments include some aimed at reducing presidential powers and ensuring greater transparency in Niger's business dealings. Another bars junta members from contesting Niger's January presidential and legislative elections.The charter reinstates the position of a prime minister to run the government, a role abolished by Tandja. Future presidents will be limited to two terms of five years. Members of parliament will also have to be re-elected every five years. Future elections will require candidates to be at least 35-years-old and under 70.

The constitutional referendum in uranium-rich but dirt-poor Niger follows a military coup on 18 Feb in which President Mamadou Tandja, who ruled for 10 years and was seeking to extend his term, was deposed. The 130 constitutional amendments include some aimed at reducing presidential powers and ensuring greater transparency in Niger's business dealings. Another bars junta members from the contesting Niger's January presidential and legislative elections. The charter reinstates the position of a prime minister to run the government, a role abolished by Tandja. Future presidents will be limited to two terms of five years. Members of parliament will also have to be re-elected every five years. Future elections will require candidates to be at least 35-years-old and under 70. The country's dire problems -- extreme flooding in areas set back by prolonged drought and crop failures -- promise to complicate the referendum. According to Bloomberg, the advisory council that prepared the draft constitution is made up of representatives from political parties, civil society groups and religious organizations. Although one of the continent's poorest nations, and currently battling widespread famine, Niger is rich in natural resources, including oil and uranium. But many questions have been asked over the contracts signed by the state. The Jan 3 vote will include the election of a successor to Tandja. (LAST UPDATED AUG 2010)

New Niger charter to limit power, seek transparency (Reuters 12 Aug 2010)

Niger Advisory Council Adopts Draft Constitution With Over 130 Amendments (Bloomberg 13 Aug 2010)

Date written/update: 2010-10-31