Niger’s lead opposition coalition says errors on the country’s voter register could undermine elections this month intended to return the country to civilian rule after a military coup in February.
With just two days before local and regional elections in Niger, debate over the country’s electoral list continues, despite revisions to the list before and after a constitutional referendum in October 2010.
Leaders of the opposition coalition the Coordination of Democratic Forces of the Republic continue to call for issues with the voter list to be cleared up, including confusion over polling stations and the distribution of voter cards.
Former prime minister and Coordination of Democratic Forces of the Republic leader Hama Amadou says the coalition is trying to verify reports there are problems with 23 percent of the voter list, which he says could distort the results of the election.
Amadou said opposition leaders are divided as to whether the elections should be pushed back, but said they want the electoral list to be corrected so it can be accepted by everyone.
Other political parties, including the ousted president’s MNSD party, say the electoral list is not perfect but does not pose a risk to the credibility of the poll.
MNSD party spokesman Harouna Moussa says the situation should not be over dramatized. He says the electoral list is not that bad. He says the issues raised can be discussed, but should not hold up elections. He says we should stick to the timeline and not create controversy.
Niger has been under military rule since February, when the army overthrew the country’s increasingly unpopular leader President Mamadou Tandja and promised elections within the year. The new constitution, approved by referendum in October, gives the army until April 6 to restore civilian rule.
Officials say Saturday’s local and regional elections will be proceed as planned, followed by legislative elections and a presidential poll on January 31.
Interior Minister, Ousmane Cisse, says political parties were involved in revisions of the electoral list and to want to clean up the list now, just days before elections, is unreasonable.
Cisse says election organizers will do all they can to reduce the risk of disputes.