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NIGER CALLS ON UN TO OBSERVE UPCOMING REFERENDUM AND ELECTIONS

Source: unic.org

23 September - Niger's head of State Salou Djibo today called for the United Nations and other international organizations to observe the forthcoming series of elections to restore the impoverished West African country to constitutional rule after February's coup d'état.

Addressing the General Assembly on the opening day of its annual session, he stressed the transitional government's determination to “guarantee free, fair, transparent and credible elections.”

In February soldiers stormed the presidential palace and deposed Mamadou Tandja, who had been accused by opposition figures and others of anti-democratic practices.

“The commitments that we made the day after the events of 18 February 2010, are at an advanced stage of fulfilment and will be held within the agreed timetable, with your support,” General Djibo said.

The electoral timetable provides for polls to be held between 31 October and 6 April 2011, beginning with a referendum on the new constitution and culminating with the election of a new president who will be inaugurated on 11 April. Members of the transitional government and the military and security forces will be ineligible to stand.

Gen. Djibo thanked the international community for its aid during a severe food crisis earlier this year, in which the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and partners cooperated with the Government in easing the situation for almost half of the population of 15 million.

He also underscored the threat of terrorism in the region, citing the abduction last week of seven foreigners in Niger, which “reminds us of the gravity of the situation and the urgency of taking the necessary measures to effectively confront this threat peace, security and the development of our countries.

“Each day which passes sees terrorism expanding in our sub-region, at the risk of tarnishing the image of the Sahelian countries, compromising tourist revenue and increasing the misery and insecurity of the populations.”

Benin Foreign Minister Jean-Marie Ehouzou cited the UN's support in producing a computerized electoral list “which ensure transparency and reduce considerably post-electoral challenges and troubles.”

He also called for speedy enlargement of the Security Council.