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Assemblée nationale (National Assembly)

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Parliament name (generic / translated) Assemblée nationale / National Assembly
Structure of parliament Unicameral
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 20 October 2009
Purpose of elections Early elections were held for all seats in the National Assembly following the adoption of the new Constitution in August 2009. Elections to the National Assembly had previously taken place in December 2004.
The October 2009 elections followed months of political turmoil over a proposed constitutional referendum that would among other things lift the two-term presidential limit. President Mamadou Tandja had been serving his second five-year term which was due to end in December 2009.

In the previous elections held in December 2004 the National Movement for the Development Society (MNSD) led by the then Prime Minister Hama Amadou took 47 of the 113 seats at stake. He had been considered a close ally of President Tandja who had resigned as leader of the MNSD upon assuming the country's presidency. Four parties allied to the MNSD took a total of 41 seats: the Democratic Social Convention (CDS led by Speaker Mahamane Ousmane 22 seats) the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP comprising followers of the assassinated President Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara six seats) the Social and Democratic Rally (RSD seven seats) and the National Alliance for Democracy and Progress (ANDP five seats). The main opposition force the Niger Party for Democracy and Socialism (PDSN) took 25 seats. The PDSN is led by Mr. Elhadj Mahamadou Issoufou who had lost to Mr. Tandja in the run-off presidential elections in 2004.

In May 2007 Prime Minister Amadou (MNSD) lost a vote of no confidence over corruption charges. The vote was supported by the PDSN and some of the MNSD's allies including the CDS. In June Mr. Seïni Oumarou succeeded him as Prime Minister. In June 2008 Mr. Amadou was arrested for alleged embezzlement of 100 million CFA francs (US$ 220 000). Some MNSD members who supported Mr. Amadou accused President Tandja and the government of fabricating charges against Mr. Amadou to keep him out of the presidential race in 2009.

On 7 May President Tandja announced that a referendum on the new Constitution would be held before the end of 2009. The proposed Constitution would have lifted the two-term presidential limit. Several parties in the National Assembly including the CDS - the MNSD's close ally - opposed the referendum. On 11 May they requested the Constitutional Court to issue a legal opinion. On 25 May 2009 the Constitutional Court ruled that any referendum aimed at lifting the two-term presidential limit would be unconstitutional. The following day President Tandja issued a decree dissolving the National Assembly without specifying any reason and announced that he would be ruling the country by decree. On 5 June the Council of Ministers set the referendum date for 4 August. On 12 June the Constitutional Court annulled the planned referendum. On 29 June the President dissolved the Constitutional Court and appointed a new one two days later. The PDSN argued that the President had no power to dissolve the Constitutional Court or suspend the Constitution and led street protests demanding his resignation. In the meantime President Tandja signed a decree establishing a committee to draft a new Constitution.

On 3 July President Tandja issued another decree calling a constitutional referendum for 4 August. Although the National Independent Electoral Commission had set the date for elections to the National Assembly for 20 August they were postponed due to the referendum. On 4 August 68.26 per cent of the 6 million registered voters turned out at the polls. According to the official results the new Constitution was approved by 92.5 per cent. On 14 August the Constitutional Court validated the referendum results. The Constitution came into effect on 18 August upon its promulgation by the President of the Republic (see note). The following day he signed a decree calling elections to the National Assembly for 20 October.

On 19 August the government briefly stepped down to allow the President to appoint a new government. Prime Minister Seyni Oumarou the incumbent President of the MNSD and all 32 ministers were re-appointed on the same day. On 24 September Mr. Oumarou resigned as Prime Minister to run for the 2009 elections. Interior Minister Albade Abouba became acting Prime Minister.

Prior to the 2009 elections 30 outgoing opposition members were detained by the police on charges of embezzlement. All outgoing parliamentarians were banned from leaving the country.

On 26 September the Coordination of Democratic Forces for the Republic (CFDR) a coalition of opposition parties including the PDSN and the ANDP called for a boycott of the elections in protest against the President's dissolution of the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court. PDSN leader Issoufou criticized the elections which in his view would install a dictatorship in the country. The CFDR called for the restoration of the previous Constitution.

President Tandja urged citizens to turn out en masse. Former prime minister Oumarou encouraged them to give the MNSD the mandate to pursue ongoing projects.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) urged President Tandja to postpone the elections indefinitely and favour dialogue with the opposition. Notwithstanding the plea the President decided to maintain the election date. ECOWAS subsequently suspended Niger's membership.

The Government declared polling day a paid public holiday. A total of 51.27 per cent of the 6 million registered voters turned out at the polls. No major incidents were reported on polling day.

The MNSD won 76 of the 113 seats at stake. Its allies the RSD and the RDP took 15 and seven seats respectively. Four small parties took one seat each. Ten independent candidates were elected. Eleven women were elected. The result for one constituency was invalidated by the Constitutional Court. A fresh election is due to take place on 27 December.

On 14 November the newly elected National Assembly held its first session. On 25 November it elected former prime minister Seïni Oumarou (MNSD) as its new Speaker.

Note on the new Constitution:
The new Constitution (of the Sixth Republic) provides for a bicameral Parliament comprising a National Assembly and a Senate. All senators will serve a five-year term. The new Constitution does not stipulate a timeline for installing the Senate. A separate law will set the statutory number of the senators eligibilities incompatibilities and mode of filling vacancies. Until the Senate is installed the National Assembly will exercise legislative power. The new Constitution has lifted the presidential term limit. Although the term remains five years the term of the incumbent President Mamadou Tandja has been extended until the next presidential elections which will be held in December 2012. The new Constitution has transformed the country's political system from a semi-presidential system into a full-fledged presidential one. The President can no longer dissolve parliament. The latter can no longer force the government to resign through a vote of no confidence. The President is both the Head of State and the Head of Government.
Voter turnout
Round no 120 October 2009
Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
3'106'833 (51.27%)
Distribution of votes
Round no 1
Political Group Candidates Votes %
National Movement for the Development Society (MNSD)
Social Democratic Rally (RSD)
Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP)
Niger Self-Management Party (PNA)
Niger Workers' Movement Party (PMT)
Niger Patriot Rally (RPN)
Union of Independent Nigeriens (UNI)
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total
National Movement for the Development Society (MNSD) 76
Social Democratic Rally (RSD) 15
Independents 11
Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) 7
Niger Self-Management Party (PNA) 1
Niger Workers' Movement Party (PMT) 1
Niger Patriot Rally (RPN) 1
Union of Independent Nigeriens (UNI) 1
Distribution of seats according to sex
Percent of women
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
Source: National Assembly (19.11.2009)

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