Drastic moves

Tandja, 71, a former colonel in power for 10 years, also dissolved parliament and the constitutional court which had opposed the move.

The CFDR, which comprises political parties, human rights and labour organisations, has denounced the referendum as a "coup" and wants fresh elections to be organised.

The opposition boycotted October 20 legislative elections, after which the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspended Niger as a member and the European Union put a freeze on  its development aid.

ECOWAS mediator Abdulsalami Abubakar held talks with President Tandja on Friday as part of the 15-nation bloc's efforts to resolve the crisis, Nigerien state television reported.