Africa

Niger backs constitution to end junta rule

The head of the military junta, General Salou Djibo, casts his ballot in Niamey on 31 October 2010
Image caption Junta leader General Salou Djibo now has to sign the constitution into law

Results from a referendum in Niger show more than 90% of voters backed a new constitution designed to return the country to civilian rule.

The constitution was put forward by the junta leaders who came to power in a coup which ousted ex-President Mamadou Tandja in February.

It reduces the power of future presidents, provides for elections in January and a handover in April.

Turnout in Sunday's referendum was about 52%.

The BBC's Idy Baraou in the capital, Niamey, says among the measures in the constitution are a two-term limit for presidents and amnesty for the February coup plotters.

Mr Tandja, a former army officer in his early 70s, was first elected in 1999 and was returned to power in an election in 2004.

He came under increasing criticism both at home and abroad after changing the constitution to allow him to stay in power for a third term.

The new constitution, which needs to be signed into law by junta leader Gen Salou Djibo, also states that MPs will in the future need a university degree.

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