Niger launches own IEC

2010-06-14 20:02

Niamey - Niger's transitional prime minister, Mahamadou Danda, on Monday inaugurated a new electoral commission, tasked by the junta with organising general elections by March 2011.

"The next electoral contests will be open, free and fair... Under no circumstances shall we allow the polls to be tarnished," Danda said at an inauguration ceremony in Niamey.

The prime minister asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) to "show proof of even-handedness, neutrality and independence" and he insisted on the "strict neutrality" of transitional institutions during the electoral process.

The CENI, which is about 50 strong, is chaired by a judge, Abdourahmane Ghousmane, with a lawyer, Aissatou Zada, for vice president.

"Among our priorities are the revision of the electoral rolls, the drawing up of the timetable for the elections and the budget of the CENI," Ghousmane told journalists.

The commission is tasked with organising a constitutional referendum and municipal, legislative and presidential elections.

According to Danda, the new elected president should be sworn into office on March 1 2011 in the uranium-rich but largely arid and very poor west African country.

Niger has been run by a military junta since the February 18 overthrow of President Mamadou Tandja after 10 years in power. Tandja had brought about a political crisis by seeking to extend his mandate beyond its legal term.

The military pledged to return power to civilians after a transition period of 12 months.

A new electoral code had been adopted by the junta, while Niger's consultative council is due to study a draft constitution in July.