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Niger opposition leader claims presidential dissolution of high court is 'coup'

[JURIST] An opposition politician in Niger on Tuesday accused President Mamadou Tandja [BBC profile] of committing a coup d'etat by annulling the West African country's Constitutional Court on Monday. Bazoum Mohamed of the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) [party website] said that Tandja did not have the right to assume emergency powers [BBC reports], disband the court [Reuters report], or dissolve the parliament [BBC report]. Marou Amadou, a prominent political opponent of Tandja, was arrested [Times report] after urging military intervention. Niger's military has pledged to remain neutral [AFP report] in the conflict and urged political leaders to focus on dialogue.

The political unrest in Niger stems from an attempt by Tandja to remain in power for a third term despite a two-term constitutional limit. In May, the Constitutional Court ruled [Pana report] that plans to hold a referendum on allowing a third term violated the 1999 Constitution [text, in French]. Tandja responded to the ruling by dissolving parliament and assuming emergency powers.

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