Nigers continuing crisis imperils democracy SecretaryGeneral warns

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2 July 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced deep concern about Niger’s continuing political and constitutional crisis, warning that it threatens to destabilize the country and undermine recent progress towards democratic governance and the rule of law. The recent decisions taken by the Niger Government “have 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,” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson.Media reports say President Mamadou Tandja has dissolved the country’s Parliament and its Constitutional Court in a row over his plans to hold a referendum – scheduled for next month – to change Niger’s constitution so he can run for a third term in office.The statement from Mr. Ban’s office urged restraint on both sides and political dialogue to resolve the crisis, and he also offered his good offices to work with regional partners – especially the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – to find a solution.

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