Bans in Niger polls

2010-03-12 20:12

Niamey - Niger's junta on Friday banned its own members and also government ministers from standing in elections, in a decree signed by its chief, Major Salou Djibo, state radio reported.

"Ineligibility applies particularly to the president of the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (CSRD, the junta) and its members," said the decree read out on La Voix du Sahel.

The measure also applied "to the prime minister and members of the transitional government," the radio report said.

It also listed police, gendarmes, troops, customs officers and employees of the national forestry and water agencies as ineligible to stand for election in the west African country.

The junta that overthrew President Mamadou Tandja on February 18 has yet to give a date for elections and its handover of power back to a democratic regime.

But the coup was widely welcomed in the poverty-stricken but uranium-rich state, where Tandja last year became deeply unpopular when he took steps to extend his second five-year term via a disputed referendum on a new constitution.

He also scrapped the constitutional court and dissolved parliament, paving the way for elections in which only his supporters took part, while his rivals took to the streets.

On Friday, Djibo signed another decree banning governors, district administrators and traditional chiefs from carrying out "party political activity" during the transition.

Highly influential over their local populations, the traditional chiefs last August played an important role in promoting the highly controversial referendum that enabled Tandja to extend his mandate by three years.

The ousted president had been due to stand down on December 22 2009.

On Wednesday, the junta named soldiers toe seven of the eight governorships in the country, replacing the civilians in office before the coup.