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[Published: Thursday July 02 2009]

US voices concern over Niger crisis

Washington, 02 July-(ANA)-The White House has waded into the Niger's deepening political crisis, accusing the Saharan country's president of undermining the rule of law.

Niger's President Mamadou Tandja had dissolved the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court as part of a bid to retain power beyond his constitutionally-limited mandate.

In a statement, the Obama administration said "These decisions undermine Niger's efforts over the last 10 years to advance good governance and the rule of law."

Tandja, a 71-year-old retired army colonel whose legal term limit ends in December, is fighting to retain the country's top job.

He has met stiff political and legal resistance at home, after scrapping the national constitutional court and dissolving parliament, which had challenged him.

Tandja has also drawn fire for claiming emergency powers, which he said were necessary to protect the independence of the arid and landlocked west African nation.

Washington on Wednesday said it would "monitor the situation in Niger closely" and backed African efforts to resolve the standoff.

"We are encouraged that the African Union has sent a delegation to Niger to attempt to find resolution to this political crisis," the statement said.(ANA)

FA/ANA/02 July 2009---

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