NIAMEY, Niger — Despite threats by rebel nomads, Niger held its first open election in 32 years Saturday, a referendum on a constitution that would allow multi-party presidential and legislative balloting next year.
A national democracy conference ousted President Ali Saibou in November, 1991, and put transitional Prime Minister Amadou Cheiffou in power. Multi-party elections have already been postponed three times.
Saibou, who was forced to call the conference by strikes and protests, retains influence over the military.
Cheiffou recently dissolved his government, saying it couldn't cope with the problems facing the country of 7 million. A fall in the price of uranium, Niger's main export, has sharply reduced export earnings, and recurring droughts have forced it to import food.
The results of Saturday's vote--the first since independence from France 32 years ago--were not expected before Monday. The ballot was monitored by international observers.