New constitution advocating semi-presidential system drafted

A committee set up by Niger’s military junta to choose between two draft constitutions has voted in favour of retaining a system that envisages power being shared between the president and the prime minister, news organisations reported.

The text of the draft approved by the Consultative Council was released on Thursday. It was approved by a margin of 42 to 38, sources said.

The committee’s decision will be put to a referendum by the ruling military but it was not immediately clear when the referendum would be held.

A media source in Niamey told IRIN that the smaller parties and the Mouvement national pour la societe de developpement (MNSD) were in favour of a semi-presidential regime because this system is less weighted in favour of the main party.

However, supporters of former President Ibrahim Bare Mainassara, who was assassinated in the military coup in April, were in favour of the presidential system, according to the source.

Members of the Convention democratique et sociale (CDS) - which had formed the bulk of the government ousted by Mainassara in January 1996 - were also in favour of the presidential regime because they were “traumatised by the cohabitation” in 1995.

During Niger’s “cohabitation”, a CDS-led coalition government was paralysed by in-fighting between its CDS and its rival-turned-partner, the MNSD.