Niger’s decision to dissolve parliament has worried investors already closely watching a debate over whether the president can extend his rule of the uranium exporter, businessmen and politicians said on WednesdayTANJA.

President Mamadou Tandja, who is due to step down after completing two terms in power later this year, dissolved parliament on Tuesday, a day after Niger’s constitutional court declared his bid for a referendum on staying in power unlawful.

That bid has divided the government and sparked demonstrations, fuelling political instability in a nation that has attracted investors such as France’s Areva as it seeks to become one of the world’s top exporters of uranium.

“It is clear that in this context, investors are hesitating over or delaying their projects,” said Abdoulkarim Aksar, the local manager of London-listed Niger Uranium, which has exploration licenses in the Tim Mersoi Basin in Niger’s north.

“One way or another, the situation is worrying,” he added.

As the cost of oil and fears over global warming have rekindled interest in nuclear energy, Niger has handed out over 130 prospecting licenses, most of which have been for uranium.

But just 10 percent of these are currently active as the political uncertainty comes on top of a two-year revolt led by Tuareg nomads calling for greater autonomy for the north, and a larger slice of the revenues from natural resources.

Niger was due to hold presidential and parliamentary polls at the end of the year but, according to the constitution, a new parliament must now be elected within three months



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