Niger set to adopt new charter

2010-11-02 10:06

Niamey - Niger was on course to adopt constitutional changes designed to ease the transition to democracy following a February coup, partial official results of a referendum showed on Monday.

Ballots counted from more than half of the west African uranium producer's 266 voting districts showed an overwhelming vote in support of the changes, Gousmane Abdourahamane, the chairman of the national election commission, said on television.

"We have the results of 172 voting districts ... that is, 64% of the total," he said.

"Voter turnout on the national level was 54.16%, with 93.48 voting 'Yes'," he said, adding that full results should be available on Tuesday afternoon "at the latest".

The ruling junta had strongly urged voters to endorse the new constitution.

Around 6.7 million voters were eligible to take part in Sunday's referendum, seen as the start of a process of return to civilian rule by April next year.

Presidential and legislative elections have been scheduled for January 31.

The new constitution, which would be the seventh since the former French colony gained its independence in 1960, is designed to replace one passed in August last year which enabled then-president Mamadou Tandja to stay in power beyond his second five-year mandate.