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Election Officials: Niger President Wins Bid to Extend Rule

By VOA News
07 August 2009

Niger's electoral commission says President Mamadou Tandja has easily won a referendum to change the constitution and extend his stay in power.

The commission announced Friday the referendum was approved by more than 92 percent of voters, despite demonstrations by the opposition that closed some polls and led to clashes with police.

Electoral officials says 68 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in Tuesday's vote.

Opposition leaders have said they consider the election a sham and plan to challenge the results. The deputy president of the opposition Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS), Bazoum Mohammed, told VOA English to Africa huge numbers of voters boycotted the vote.

The 71-year-old president's current term is to end in December. The referendum proposed constitutional changes that allow President Tandja to rule for another three years and run for office indefinitely after that.

Mr. Tandja says the people want him to finish several foreign-backed projects to develop the impoverished nation's economy.

The government is working with foreign investors on several infrastructure projects, including a uranium mine, an oil refinery and a hydroelectric dam.

Niger is rich in uranium, but its 15 million people are among the world's poorest.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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