21 January 2011

Niger: Opposition Asks for Postponement of Elections

Nine opposition political parties in Niger have demanded the postponement of elections due to be held in 10 days’ time.

Radio France Internationale reports that they made their demand in writing to General Salou Djibo, head of the ruling junta, but that the request was promptly rejected, heightening political tensions in the country. Both legislative elections and the first round of presidential balloting is scheduled for January 31.

The situation is such that the West African regional mediator for Niger, General Abdul Salami, has been forced to make a trip to the Niger capital, Niamey. He has reportedly had talks with the Prime Minister and lengthy discussions with political leaders. He was also scheduled to meet with Djibo.

Political parties are complaining that there are problems with the electoral register and that the election commission is so incompetent that it needs to be dissolved and its head fired.

RFI reports that there is another reason for unhappiness among politicians: the Constitutional Court recently rejected a considerable number of nominees for parliamentary seats.

Recent legislation requires that 75 percent of candidates presented by any political party must have passed the BECP school leaving exam. Many candidates fall short of this requirement and thus many parties will not be represented in regions across the country.

Parties are in for a fierce battle, says RFI, since Djibo has reiterated repeatedly that changes to the electoral calendar are out of the question.

Translated and adapted by Michael Tantoh from: 9 candidats à la présidentielle du 31 janvier demandent un report du scrutin.

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