Niger leader tries to confiscate power
The leader of Niger has dissolved parliament and announced plans to hold a referendum that would allow him to be president-for-life. President Mamadou Tandja made the announcement after both legislators and the high court rejected his plans for a presently illegal third term in office. The National Assembly refused to push through constitutional changes that would've removed the two-term presidential limit. Tandja proposed a public vote to force through the changes, but the country's constitutional court ruled that a referendum "cannot serve as a basis for changing the constitution". The court added that the changes would violate his oath of office.
Presidential elections are scheduled for November of this year. The regional grouping ECOWAS warned that Niger faced sanctions if Tandja pushed his power grab. The grouping cited in particular a regional rule that Niger signed up to banning signatory member states from modifying their constitution in the six months immediately prior to an election, unless political figures from across the spectrum are in agreement.