Tandja names new top court

2009-07-03 08:16

Niamey - Niger's President Mamadou Tandja has named new members of the constitutional court, after having dissolved the previous court - a move that triggered global criticism.

Former justice minister Boube Oumarou will head the seven-strong court, which includes four magistrates, one lawyer and a university professor, following the nominations made late on Wednesday.

Tandja on Monday said he had dissolved the previous court, which has ruled against him three times in his bid to hold a referendum to decide whether he can run for a third mandate.

The 71-year-old retired army colonel dissolved parliament, which also opposed his plan, in May.

Tandja has pressed ahead with his plan to hold a referendum to decide the question, despite the constitutional court having ruled it illegal, and despite growing international criticism of his position.

Political dialogue

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, through his spokesperson in New York, said the Niger government's actions had "made it extremely difficult for the country's democratic institutions and the Constitutional Court to play their roles as guarantors of the rule of law".

Ban called "for restraint and political dialogue to resolve the crisis."

In Washington, the White House accused Tandja of seeking "to rule by ordinance and decree... as part of a bid to retain power beyond his constitutionally-limited mandate".

"These decisions undermine Niger's efforts over the last 10 years to advance good governance and the rule of law," it said in a statement.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, on a trip to Senegal, earlier called the situation in Niger "dangerous".