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Niger: Demonstrations Against MP Bonuses

(Mar. 5, 2009) A demonstration organized by three non-governmental human rights groups was held in front of Niger's Parliament in the capital city of Niamey on February 26, 2009, to demand that the legislators repay “huge salary bonuses” to the national treasury. The groups contend that the bonuses, self-awarded by the Members of Parliament, are undue and unconstitutional. They called upon each MP to return about CFA40 million (about US$77,000). According to activist Nouhou Arzika, the MPs' self-awarded bonuses and mission expenses amounted to a total of CFA4.2 billion (about US$8.4 million). (Niger: Thousands March To Denounce Bonuses for MPs, AFP, Feb. 26, 2009, available at World News Connection online subscription database, DIALOG File No. 985 Accession No. 276751321.)

In January, Niger President Mamadou Tandja refused to sign into law the government's 2009 budget, which reportedly allocated more than CFA8 billion (about US$16 million) to parliamentary business. Tandja sent the budget to the Constitutional Court, which also determined the MPs' actions to be wrongful. New legislation passed by the legislature in January that reduced MPs' benefits also met with opposition from the government and the disapproval of the Constitutional Court. (Id.)