Timeline of constitution controversy

Groups in Niger continue calling for elections while declaring support for the military "Supreme Council for Restoration of Democracy" that on 18 February 2010 dissolved the government, abducted the president and suspended a contested constitution. The UN, African Union, ECOWAS and a number of donor governments have condemned the power grab as illegal and are calling for constitutional order.

Calls to change Niger’s constitution
 in 2009 to allow President Mamadou Tandja to stay in office were met with protests from parts of Niger’s civil society, a negative ruling from the country’s highest court and regional and donor sanctions. A constitutional referendum was held on 4 August.  Below is a timeline of events affecting Niger’s governance:

Read more: IRIN Niger page

Recent events tied to constitution

21 February 2010

Coup leaders assure ECOWAS mediators of a short transition to civilian rule, the timing to be defined by political dialogue.

20 February 2010

Marches in Niamey in support of coup leaders and new elections.

19 February 2010

The UN and African Union, which suspended Niger, condemn coup. Opposition parties, members of civil society and the country's largest union release statement of support for junta and called for elections as soon as possible. Junta lifts curfew, resumes news programming and reopens borders.

18 February 2010

Local correspondents report the capture of the president and a number of government ministers in a coup. Military officers suspend the six-month-old constitution; institute a 12-hour nighttime curfew; close national borders; and call on the population to remain calm and help make Niger a "model democracy".

16 February 2010

Closed-door ECOWAS meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, on regional unrest; bloc calls for Niger's quick return to constitutionality.

14 February 2010

Reconciliation dialogue suspended; thousands attend anti-government demonstration in Niamey.

22 December 2009

Scheduled end of Tandja’s two terms as per 1999 constitution.

21 December 2009

Official talks begin between government and opposition

20 October 2009

Despite ECOWAS call for postponement, legislative election - boycotted by opposition - organized; Niger's ECOWAS membership suspended.

4 August 2009

Constitutional referendum removes presidential term limit and extends Tandja's power for three years as a "transition period".

1 July 2009

National work stoppage ordered by unions.

29 June 2009

Tandja dissolves de facto constitutional court.

26 June 2009

Constitutional court reaffirms 12 June ruling; Tandja invokes article 53 and assumes emergency powers.

25 June 2009

Rescheduled national 24-hour strike.

18 June 2009

Strike ordered by country’s seven unions cancelled by court ruling.

17 June 2009

National bar association calls for respect of 12 June constitutional court ruling.

14 June 2009

Thousands demonstrate against referendum.

13 June 2009

National electoral commission sets legislative election date.

12 June 2009

Constitutional court rejects constitutional referendum as “illegal”.

5 June 2009

Council of Ministers sets 4 August referendum vote.

2 June 2009

Tandja signs decree creating technical committee to draft new constitution.

26 May 2009

Tandja dissolves parliament (constitution holds that election must be held within 90 days).

17 May 2009

ECOWAS threatens sanctions if referendum takes place.

21 December 2008

Rally at National Assembly in support of extending presidential term limit.

6 October 2007

Tandja says he “will step down after his second term” in interview with Le Monde.

22 December 2005

Tandja sworn in for second term. Pledges to “respect and enforce respect for the constitution”.

22 December 1999

Tandja sworn in for first term.

9 August 1999

Previous constitution adopted.