AU condemns seizure of power by force in Niger

11:12, February 20, 2010      

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This TV grab image taken from Euronews channel shows Gokoye Abdul Karimou, spokesman for the millitary junta, delivering a televised statement in Niamey, February 19. Niger's new military rulers posted tanks and trucks mounted with machine guns around the presidential palace Friday after toppling strongman Mamadou Tandja and sacking the government in a deadly coup. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

The chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Jean Ping, on Friday condemned the seizure of power by force in Niger.

He said in a statement released to media that the relevant AU instruments systematically condemn any unconstitutional change and, accordingly, he condemns the seizure of power by force that took place in Niger.

He calls for speedy return to constitutional order and affirms the readiness of the AU, in close collaboration with the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), to facilitate such a process.

He is in direct contact with the president of ECOWAS Commission, as well as with other concerned international actors, the AU chief said.

There had been political tensions in Niger since President Mamadou Tandja dissolved the country's parliament and conducted a referendum to extend his two-term tenure.

The opposition condemned the Aug. 4, 2009 referendum that would allow Tandja, who was scheduled to step down in December 2009 after the expiration of two five-year terms, to stay in power till 2012.

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