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U.N. official: Niger's post-coup junta wants return to democracy

Soldiers stand outside the office of the coup's leader, Salou Djibo, in Niger's capital on Sunday.
Soldiers stand outside the office of the coup's leader, Salou Djibo, in Niger's capital on Sunday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • General public sentiment in Niger appears to favor last week's coup, U.N. official says
  • U.N.: Collapse of talks over president's effort to supersede term limits may have led to coup
  • President Mamadou Tandja is said to be detained in a military camp
  • New constitution in the works, U.N. official says
RELATED TOPICS
  • Niger
  • Coups
  • African Union

(CNN) -- The junta leading Niger following last week's coup and suspension of the constitution is working to return the country to democratic rule, a United Nations official said Sunday.

"The political party is very keen to return power to civilians and transition to an all-inclusive democracy," U.N. Special Representative for West Africa Said Djinnit told CNN. "This transition began with the occurrence of the coup and the expiration of the constitution and implementation of a new constitution."

The new constitution already is in the works, said Djinnit, who along with representatives from the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States met with junta leaders in Niamey, Niger, on Sunday to push for a quick resolution to the conflict.

"The mission of this meeting is to assure this coup is the last," Djinnit said. "No coup can be tolerated."

President Mamadou Tandja is said to be detained in a military camp following Thursday's coup. Soldiers reportedly stormed the presidential palace, according to the United Nations, and the French Embassy reported hearing intermittent gunfire less than a mile from the palace.

A military official announced the suspension of the constitution later that day and attributed the order to the Superior Council for the Restoration of Democracy.

The violence may have been prompted by a collapse of talks between the government and the opposition over a recent referendum allowing the president to hold power indefinitely, according to the United Nations. Tandja had been in office since 1999, but Niger's previous constitution mandated only two, five-year terms for president, according to the CIA World Fact Book.

General public sentiment in the west African nation of 15 million appeared to favor the coup, according to Djinnit, who said life had returned to normal for civilians and many had gathered in rallies of support. Djinnit's observations back earlier reports that the situation was calm in Niger, with children returning to school and shops open for business.

CNN's Andreena Narayan contributed to this report.

 
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