Statement of the opposition gathering of October 17, 2009, by The Coordination of Democratic Forces for the Republic (CFDR) of Niger.
Read by Bazoum Mohamed, CFDR spokesperson, Niamey, Niger.
After the wave of savage repression and gratuitous violence that characterized the response of those in power to the organization of our meetings and marches in recent months; the free expression of our opinion on the political situation of our country here is a sign of our our perseverance, our consistency and especially our determination to continue our noble struggle for the restoration of democracy. This has finally forced the authorities to do justice to what constitutes the minimum of civil rights by authorizing the holding of this gathering.
But we must not be deceived about the true reasons for this sudden change of attitude by those in power. We of the CFDR must not stop now, expecting them - at last - to respect the fundamental freedoms set out Articles 23 and 24 of the Constitution of 9 August 1999: freedom of expression and demonstration.
We know, indeed, that there is taking place today in Abuja, Nigeria, an extraordinary summit of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS [the Economic Community of West African States], examining the political crises in Niger and Guinea.
But we also know that those in power has always trivialized the importance of this body, having said at the summit [prior to their seizure of power] that they had no intention of doing anything which violated the Constitution. And then they rushed headlong violating this commitment made before the highest bodies of ECOWAS.
But we of the CFDR know above all that the Nigerien people, deeply committed as we are to our socio-cultural values of honesty and people's respect for truth, abide by for a pledge once it is given. The people of Niger, I say here, remain vigilant and will not sacrifice their own honor at the altar of the irresponsibility of Niger's leaders.
Activists of the CFDR!
You know, our country is practically in a state of emergency after the succession of events that led to Tandja Mamadou carry out his coup against the Fifth Republic, a coup to which the authorities have vainly tried to give a veneer of democracy through the organization unilateral legislative and municipal elections.
To this end, I must remind all that the CFDR in no way condones such elections and repeats once again the call to all militants of CFDR member organizations not associate with this charade and to refrain from campaigning or voting for any candidate or list.
Indeed, anyone participating in these unilateral elections is endorsing the constitutional coup of Tandja Mamadou and his "Sixth Republic". It would endorse the state of lawlessness which Tandja Mamadou contrived for our country. This state beyond law is experienced daily by each of us.
Events of last week, namely the opening of the second regular session for 2009 of the rehabilitated National Assembly [previously dissolved by the government] gave the authorities a chance to continue their policy and legal harassment of its elected member. The reason for this harassment is well known: the refusal of the National Assembly to serve Tandja Mamadou as a tool to prolong his mandate at his whim, by passing laws that were unconstitutional under the Fundamental Laws of 9 August 1999.
After much subterfuge, the head of state still took the risk of trying to impose on Nigeriens, under the conditions that we have seen, a dead letter of a "Sixth Republic", by intimidation and violent repression imposed on a Nigerien people whose only "crime" is to demand compliance with the laws of the Republic.
These people, whom power wished to exploit, rather held with determination, through rallies and marches throughout the country, to the struggle against dictatorship and against the taking back of Niger's hard won democratic rights.
Activists of the CFDR!
Each passing day has seen its share of censure and condemnation of the attitude of the Nigerien authorities that has exposed our country to international sanctions.
The seizure of power and autocratic, dictatorial behavior has unfortunately become a real threat to our whole region. The African peoples who have fought for and won the a dawning of democracy and the rule of law must deal firmly to stem this contagion which would before long relegate our continent to the dustbin of history. The price we would pay would be heavy.
Indeed, having failed to quickly react to these real, if predictable, dangers which wave sprung from leaders being allowed to manipulate constitutional order, the international community and Pan-African organizations are now reduced to the role of firemen, as we see in in the Republic of Guinea where Dadis Camara has subjected his people to a savage and barbaric suffering so that he might settle permanently in power.
The reaction of the African community as a whole, though late, should be encouraged and supported by all the genuine democratic forces.
In Guinea, we must see that not only Dadis Camara steps down, but that he is held accountable before the people and the law.
Here in Niger, Tandja must also leave power no later than 22 December -- 2009 in accordance with the Constitution of 9 August 1999 -- if we wish to spare our country an era of tumult which may lead to suffering like that which the Guinean people see today.
Activists of the CFDR!
I wish for you all to congratulate our brave National Assembly parliamentarians who have begun, against the winds and tides of power, the second regular session of the National Assembly for the year 2009.
This is an opportunity for representatives from across our nation to come to grips with social and political crisis in our country and work for solutions, based on the demands made by the CFDR.
The demands of the CFDR are:
1. the release of all citizens illegally detained;
2. stop the government's policy of judicial harassment against MPs, politicians and members of organizations of civil society and private media;
3. guarantee of freedom of expression;
4. ensuring equity in access to state media;
5. guarantee of free access to public places and other gathering places;
6. the repeal of all illegal and unconstitutional acts based on the government's improper application of Article 53 of the Constitution [State of Emergency];
7. stoping the illegal referendum [the 20 August boycotted elections] and the return to normal constitutional order.
Finally, we reiterate the support and encouragement from the CFDR for all those on our continent and around the world who fight for the universal values of respect and human dignity, respect for fundamental freedoms and respect for democratic principles and rules.
We make a fervent appeal to all activists and to all sincere democrats to demonstrate your overwhelming boycott of these illegal legislative elections October 20, 2009.
Vive la CFDR!
Long live democracy!
Vive le Niger!
For further information, see
*BBC NEWS | Africa | Niger opposition leader abducted
*NIGER: Write a letter to protest detention of activists | Independent Friends of Niger | 08.24.2009
*Niger parliament vote to harden Tandja's power | Reuters Abdoulaye Massalatchi - 19 October
*Niger pushes ahead with 'coup' vote despite outcry | Boureima Hama (AFP) - 19 October
*PNDS-TARAYYA -- Parti Nigérien pour la Démocratie et le Socialisme
Coordination of Democratic Forces for the Republic (CFDR) of Niger