Niger’s ruling party wins majority in parliament after elections

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Niger's president Mamadou Tanja

According to Niger’s election commission, President Mamadou Tandja's party won a large majority in the parliament after recent elections held on Tuesday.

76 of 113 total seats were taken by Tandja's party, and a further 21 seats were taken by smaller parties supportive of the president. Twelve independents also received seats in the parliament. Opposition parties boycotted the ballot after Tandja altered the constitution to allow him to extend his time in office past the limit of ten years, and seek a third term.

Reports of turnout varied widely, indicating that between 18% and 80% of people voted. Turnout in rural areas was reported to have been higher, while fewer voters cast their ballots in Niger's capital Niamey.

The elections, however, have been condemned by some in the international community. The polls were organised despite pressure for them to be postponed. Several days ago, the ECOWAS trade bloc suspended Niger when it refused to heed calls to postpone the ballot, and said it would not recognise the election’s results. The country’s Foreign Minister Aichatou Mindaoudou responded to ECOWAS’ decision, saying that the bloc didn’t understand Niger’s political dynamics. Niger has asked for the bloc to reconsider the suspension.