Western support for democracy is being tested by Niger's military rulers who seized power on 21 January. On 25 March, the European Union decided, against French pressure, to maintain its Lomé aid suspension for the six months initially planned. Paris had already restored aid and was pressing the EU to extend recognition and aid, if Niamey promised to stick to its election schedule. Colonel Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara has committed his fellow soldiers to a constitutional referendum in June and presidential, and then legislative, elections in September. French jurists are to help reduce the 40 political parties to four, and bring in a new presidential constitution.
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