- The West African economic bloc has suspended Niger after President Mamadou Tandja refused to postpone the legislative elections. The bloc had called on Niger to delay elections pending the political dialogue after a controversial referendum that has extended the president's term in office.
President Tandja ignored the last-minute appeals by ECOWAS leaders to delay the poll, saying preparations were too far advanced for a postponement.
Earlier today, the ECOWAS political director, Abdel Fatau Musa said the decision by Niger to go to polls was a clear indication that President Tandja had rejected the bloc’s call.
He said ECOWAS was communicating with the African Union to put the Niger file also on the agenda of the African Union Peace and Security Council, warning that the issue could end up in the UN Security Council, and Niger could be left in international isolation unless Mr Tandja backed down.
The ruling party communications secretary, Issoufou Tamboura, has however said the opposition boycott will have no impact on the vote, as it was the case when the boycotted the referendum.
Mr Tamboura also said the boycott will not stop the new government from continuing its work and electing a new assembly, further saying the boycott will not affect the credibility as the ruling party is biggest in the country.
In Niger, Mr Tandja, has made more enemies after forcibly staging a referendum for a third term to run as president. He dissolved parliament just a day after the Constitutional Court rejected a call for a referendum on 25 May to allow him to seek a third term when his mandate expires on 22 December.
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