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Constitution standoff prompts donor warnings

A well refurbished by the IFRC in the Tahoua region.
(Nicholas Reader/IRIN)

Amid mounting international opposition to a proposed referendum for President Mamadou Tandja to stay in power, the European Commission – one of Niger's largest donors – has warned of aid cuts if leaders do not respect constitutional order.

“Any changes to the constitution, notably its fundamental articles, should not be made in the absence of consensual and inclusive dialogue,” European Commissioner for development and humanitarian aid, Louis Michel, said in a public statement.

Following three rulings from Niger’s highest court that a vote to change the constitution would be illegal, President Tandja on 29 June dissolved de facto the court then declared he was assuming “emergency powers”.

Commissioner Michel said recent actions “could have direct consequences on our cooperation”.

From 2000 – shortly after Tandja was sworn in for the first of his two terms – until 2007, the EC has provided Niger almost US$700 million in development funds that have gone toward rural infrastructure, food security, transport, education, health and governance.

Since 2005 the EC has given an additional $43 million in emergency humanitarian aid following the food crisis, according to the commission’s humanitarian aid office in the capital Niamey.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has threatened sanctions against Niger, while the UN and the Canadian, French and US governments have issued warnings for Niger’s leaders to respect constitutional order.

In March 2008 Niger received $23 million from the US government -- a grant to help countries prepare to qualify for multimillion-dollar grants from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, given to poor nations that demonstrate good governance.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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