Libmonster ID: U.S.-1361
Author(s) of the publication: V. R. FILIPPOV


Doctor of Historical Sciences

Institute of Africa, Russian Academy of Sciences

Key words: Niger, coup, Tuareg, conflict, military regime

The motley conglomerate of peoples, languages, cultures, confessions, and ways of life support in the territory of modern Niger has never been harmonious and conflict-free. In the post-colonial period, Nigerians failed to establish an effective system of public administration.

Socioculturally, the population of Niger is heterogeneous. The spatial localization of various population groups and the specifics of their economic activities do not contribute to the formation of national cohesion. Farmers, native speakers of the Hausa language (their share is more than 55%), inhabit the south of the country. Songhai and Djerma (about 21%) occupy the western part, while Tuareg pastoralists (about 9%) roam in the north. The Fulbe and Gourma pastoral tribes (8.5%) are dispersed throughout the territory, while the Kanuri (about 5%) live in the south-east, on the shores of Lake Chad 1. Niger is home to 5-6 thousand Europeans, mostly French. The religious composition of the population is more homogeneous: 98% of the population profess Sunni Islam (some researchers believe that about 80% of the population profess Islam2); about 1.5% are adherents of traditional African beliefs, 0.5% are Catholics 3.


The colonies of France were declared its "overseas territories"in 1946. The French Constitution provided for the representation of Africans in local government, they were given the right to be elected to the National Assembly of France. At the same time, the first political party emerged - the Niger Progressive Party (NPP), which became one of the sections of the African Democratic Association (ADO).

In 1951, there was a split in the ranks of the NPP, due to the desire of the left wing of the party to cooperate with the French Communists. The left was led by Bakari Djibo, who in 1957 created a new party-the Niger Democratic Union (in 1958 it was called "Savaba", translated from the Hausa language - freedom). In the 1957 elections. it won the majority of seats in Parliament, and B. Djibo took the post of Prime Minister.4

In 1958, France held a referendum in which the population of the Overseas Territories expressed their attitude to being part of the French Community. If Savaba was in favor of the independence of Niger, the NPP was in favor of preserving the union with France. As a result of political manipulation and direct bribery of tribal leaders, 78% of Nigerians voted for Niger's entry into the French Community. This led to a political crisis, as a result of which B. Djibo left his post. Amani Diori, one of the founders of the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs and its General Secretary since 1951, became the head of the Government. In December 1958, with the support of the most influential tribal leaders, he headed the Government of the autonomous Niger.

In the December 1958 parliamentary elections, the NPP won a majority of seats in the National Assembly of Niger, and a few months later Sawaba was banned.


August 3, 1960 National Assembly (Parliament) Niger declared its independence, and on November 8, it adopted a Constitution that marked the proclamation of the First Republic. (I should note that the designation of the" seven republics " of Niger is rather arbitrary; however, such a periodization of the country's recent history, linked to more or less significant transformations of the Basic Law, has, in my opinion, a certain operational meaning.)

The Constitution gave the country's president broad powers: according to the letter of the law, he was elected for five years on the basis of universal and direct suffrage by secret ballot. However, this constitutional norm was violated: on November 9, A. Diori was "exceptionally" 5 elected President by deputies of the National Assembly.

One thing has been established in the country-

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the party system that existed until 1974. All public organizations operated under the control of the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs. The ruling party's ideology was based on nationalism and adherence to"traditional values". Social peace was declared a condition for the country's development, and all manifestations of social and political discontent were regarded as an encroachment on national unity. The "united party" concept was designed to unite representatives of all social strata under the slogans of national unity.

In the organizational structure of the NPP, African traditionalism and the principles of European democracy were bizarrely combined: the basis of the party was the tribal "aristocracy", which was well paid by France and therefore focused primarily on it in foreign and domestic policy. The traditional nobility openly used the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs to fight for seats in the representative bodies of Niger, French West Africa and France.

On April 24, 1961, Niger signed an agreement on political, economic and military cooperation with France. According to it, the former metropolis retained control over foreign trade, finance, defense, and the country's education system. French military bases and troops remained in Niger.

A. Diori successfully coped with the partisan war that Savaba tried to unleash, and with several attempts on his life personally. A. Diori's position was also strengthened by his mediation activities during the Biafran War in Nigeria in 1967-1969. 6 He was twice re-elected President of Niger (in 1965 and 1970). It is generally believed that the end of his rule was put by the severe drought of 1969-1974, the loss of livestock in the Sahel and the subsequent famine - in April 1974. he was ousted from power in a military coup. However, there is reason to believe that not only these reasons led to the end of the reign of the first president of the country: A. Diori tried to change the discriminatory conditions for the extraction of Niger's uranium by French companies. (About this - in the continuation of the article in the next issue.)


As a result of the military coup, the current constitution was abolished, and the National Assembly was dissolved. At the head of the state was the Supreme Military Council (VVS), which was headed by Lieutenant Colonel Seini Kunche, a descendant of the rulers of Djerma. Soon after, he was appointed President of Niger by members of the Air Force.

A commission was established to investigate the embezzlement of the former leadership of the country, which at the end of 1974 issued decisions on the confiscation of property from former ministers and senior government officials. A. Diori was sentenced to 6 years in prison; in 1980, after serving his term, he was placed under house arrest, and in 1987 he was exiled to Morocco, where he died. 7.

Relations with France became much cooler than under the previous regime: already in 1974, cooperation agreements with the former metropolis were revised, and the French military contingent was withdrawn from the country.

S. Kunche immediately after taking office as President stated: "We do not intend to become revolutionaries. We do not intend to establish a new form of society in Niger. All we need is cleaning and tidying up our house." First of all, he organized the distribution of food supplies in a poor country and thus won the support of the majority of its citizens. Having proclaimed the "policy of realism", S. Kunche called "pragmatism the main principle" of his activity. Guided by the concept of "economic liberalism", he did everything possible to attract foreign capital, while encouraging national private entrepreneurship.8 It has managed to stabilize the situation thanks to increased uranium production and higher prices for this strategic raw material. The end of a prolonged drought also contributed to overcoming the acute crisis.

In many ways, the stabilization of the situation in the country was achieved by suppressing political opponents.9 All opponents of S. Kunche's dictatorship were forced out of politics. The opposition, which went underground, tried to organize a coup d'etat in 1975 and 1976, but these attempts were severely suppressed.

Despite the fact that the regime of S. Kunche most closely resembled a military dictatorship, he himself had a reputation for being an honest ruler. It is noteworthy that in 1984, at the initiative of the President, a commission was appointed to work out a document that was to form the basis of the constitution - the "National Charter". This document was approved by a national referendum. However, S. Kunche did not have time to complete the work on the text of the Basic Law of the country: he died of brain cancer on November 10, 1987.


On November 14, 1987, the Supreme Military Council elected Ali Saiba as its Chairman. Like his predecessor, the new ruler of Niger belonged to the Germa tribal aristocracy.

page 48

A. Saibu was born in Dingajibanda in the Oulam department, where his cousin S. Kunche 10 also comes from. At the age of 18, he volunteered for the French army and fought under the French banner in Mali and Cameroon. Since 1961, he served in his country, received the epaulettes of a general and for 11 years headed the headquarters of the armed forces of Niger, A. Saibu, an outstanding politician, left a bright mark on the history of Niger: it was not for nothing that he was called "the man who loosened the reins". A. Saibu declared amnesty for political prisoners, gave freedom to A. Diori.

In 1989, he submitted to a national referendum the constitution of the Second Republic, which was supported by the overwhelming majority of his fellow citizens. In December of the same year, he was elected President of Niger with the support of 99% of the electorate. However, the continuation of the one-party system caused serious discontent in the country, primarily among the rebellious Tuaregs11students and trade unions. In 1990, the political situation worsened, and a wave of demonstrations and strikes took place. Not wanting bloodshed, the president introduced a multi-party system.

Probably, if ASaibu had remained president of Niger longer, the country's political system and the fate of Niger would have been different. But already in 1990, a new Tuareg uprising begins in the north. The army is defeated, and student unrest begins again. In July 1991, the Constitutional Forum (the highest body of representative power under the 1989 Constitution) deprived A. Saiba of his powers, removed him from power and appointed Andre Salifa as Chairman of the Air Force.

A. Saibu left politics with dignity and left a good memory of himself, on April 7, 2011, on the day of the inauguration of President Mamadou Issoufou, the last public appearance of the "man who loosened the reins" took place. He died on October 31, 2011 in Niamey at the age of 71. Three days of mourning were declared in the country," A. Salifu, who unexpectedly found himself at the head of state, was not at all typical of the Niger political Olympus. A strictly civilian, he was an employee of the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation and the Organization of African Unity from 1972 to 1979. Then he taught the history of colonization and decolonization at the University of the capital until 1991. Professor, author of works on history, pedagogy and history of theater, at the next turn in the country's history, he turned out to be acceptable to everyone as a neutral and independent figure 12. The fact that A. Salifu was the largest expert on the Tuareg community of Niger played a decisive role: in 1993, G. published his monograph "The Tuareg question in Niger" 13.


The main achievement of A. Salifu's government was the adoption of the Constitution of the Third Republic in 1992, which opened the way for multi-party elections.

In 1993, presidential elections were held, prepared during the reign of A. Salifu. Mahaman Usman, one of the Hausa tribal leaders, was elected President for the first time.

M. Ousmane is an iconic figure in the history of Niger: he is the first democratically elected president of the country. Intellectual, from 1974 to 1987. studied at the Universities of Nantes and Paris in France, Quebec and Montreal-in Canada, received degrees in economics and statistics. He returned to Niger in 1980 and founded the Social Democratic Party, the Democratic and Social Convention (DSC), in January 1991. In the 1993 elections, this party became the basis of a broad electoral coalition ("Alliance of Forces for Change") and won a majority of seats in Parliament.

M. Usman's reign was short and difficult. Already in the first months, it faced an economic and then socio-political crisis. The situation was aggravated by another Tuareg uprising. The army could not effectively resist the separatists; a peace agreement was concluded only on April 24, 1995. In the conditions of a prolonged crisis, the authorities quickly lost the support of the population. In September 1994, the Alliance of Forces for Change was in the minority in the National Assembly. In February 1995, he lost the parliamentary elections, and M. Tanja became the head of the legislative Assembly.

Much later, in November 1999, M. Usman will be elected President of the National Assembly and will remain in this post until 2009. Since April 2004, M. Usman is the Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights in the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa, and since November 2006, the Chairman of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS). He participated in the 2011 presidential election, but received only 8.42% of the vote.14


The results of the parliamentary elections in January 1995 led to a conflict between President Usman and Prime Minister Khamenei. Amadou. There was a government collapse, which again provoked a military revolt. On January 27, 1996, a coup took place in Niamey. M. Usman was removed from power and expelled from the country. As a result of the coup

* Learn more here. in the continuation of the article in the next issue.

page 49

Prime Minister Hama Amadou was arrested. The National Reconciliation Council (SNP), headed by Colonel Ibrahim Bar Mainassara, has taken over the country.

The activities of political parties were suspended. The authorities announced that a new basic law will be developed during the six-month transition period. Indeed, in May 1996, a referendum adopted the Constitution of the Fourth Republic, which gave the President virtually unlimited powers and legitimized the ban on political activity.

Under the military dictatorship, presidential elections were held on July 7-8, 1996, which looked more like a political farce. Immediately during the election, while voting was still ongoing, I. B. Mainassara completely replaced all members of the election commission. As a result, he won 52.3% of the vote, and the ousted M. Usman - 19.7%.

On August 7, I. B. Mainassara assumed the office of President of Niger. In November of the same year, parliamentary elections were held. Under the ban on the activities of political parties, 57% of the seats were won by the president's creations. The country's secret police were rampant: civil liberties were grossly violated, independent media outlets were shut down, and journalists were harassed.

All these political manipulations have provoked sharp criticism not only within the country, but also from the international community. Multilateral and bilateral programs of economic assistance to Niger were curtailed (at that time - this is almost 54% of the country's budget)15.

New parliamentary and local government elections were held on January 8, 1999, amid a political crisis. The results indicated that an acute political crisis was brewing in the country: there were too many politicians who were opposed to the ruling regime in the electoral bodies. I. B. Mainassara refused to recognize the elections as legitimate, and a month later, in February of the same year, their results were annulled. The repressive military regime of I. B. Mainassara caused acute discontent in all segments of the Niger society and, above all, in the armed forces.


On April 9, 1999, I. B. Mainassara was killed at a military base by soldiers of the presidential guard. The creation of the National Reconciliation Council was announced, which for a short time became the highest authority in the country.

The Council was headed by a representative of the Hausa tribal elite, Dauda Malama Banke, who resisted the temptation to usurp power in the country and held presidential and parliamentary elections in October-November 1999. The victory was won by Mamadou Tanja, who beat Mahamadou Issoufou (M) in the second round. Issoufou (1995 - 1966-Speaker of the National Assembly, after the coup of 1996 - one of the leaders of the opposition, since April 2011-President of the country).

On December 22, M. Tanja was sworn in as President of Niger. He was the first President of the country whose parents belonged to the Fulbe and Kanuri communities; his predecessors represented Hausa and Jerma. [16] The NDOR party, led by Mamadou Tanja, won a majority in Parliament. [17]

Mamadou Tanja participated in the 1974 military coup that brought Seini Kunche to power, and after the coup became a member of the Air Force. In 1976-1991, he held a number of important government positions: He was a prefect, Minister of the Interior, and Ambassador to Nigeria. In the 1993 presidential election, M. Tanja was the leader in the first round, but in the second round he lost less than 5% of the vote to M. Usman. In April 1994, during the rule of I. B. Mainassara, he and 90 other people were arrested for participating in anti-government actions, the National Reconciliation Council quickly prepared a new version of the country's Basic Law, and on July 18, 1999, the Constitution of the Fifth Republic was adopted. Basically, it reproduced the constitutional norms of 1992, granting executive power to the President, who is elected for five years no more than twice.

After winning the 1999 elections, M. Tanja launched a broad program to combat poverty, actively cooperated with trade unions and achieved an increase in foreign aid. Despite the reduction of State subsidies for social needs and the salaries of civil servants, the President's economic policy enjoyed broad support in Niger's society. This allowed him to win the presidential election again in 2004.


In August 2009, a nationwide referendum was held in Niger, which adopted the Constitution of the Sixth Republic, which gave the Head of State expanded powers and removed restrictions on the number of terms of his re-election. It is noteworthy that shortly before the referendum, M. Tanja actually dissolved the Constitutional Court, which had three times banned him from holding the referendum.-

page 50

holding a referendum. And in October 2009, M. Tanja, despite opposition protests, held parliamentary elections, which were again won by the NDP.

After the elections, the political situation in the country began to heat up. M. Tanja refused to resign his powers, which expired on December 22, and thus caused another wave of criticism from the opposition and the international community. Especially noticeable was the ferment in the army. Concerned about the dominance of Jerma in the officer corps, M. Tanja created his own presidential guard and secret services. These structures, which were privileged and subject only to the President, were recruited from among his fellow tribesmen, which caused a murmur among the frontline officers 18 and predetermined the development of events according to the scenario so characteristic of Niger.

On February 18, 2010, the military again seized power in the country. The coup was relatively bloodless, with no more than 10 people killed in the clashes. After a 30-minute battle, the putschists stormed the presidential palace. Major Salu Jibo led the coup; at the time of the mutiny, he was the commander of the "First Military Zone" .19

The military arrested M. Tanju and members of the Government. Two days later, members of the government were released, and the deposed president was transferred to prison. (In December 2010, a Niger court revoked the immunity of the former President, who was accused of embezzlement of public funds and financial fraud. He was charged with embezzling $125 million from the state treasury.)

S. Djibo is a representative of the sociolinguistic community of Djerma and, remarkably, a Christian (let me remind you that Niger is a Muslim country!)20. He received military training in Côte d'Ivoire, Morocco and the PRC, and served in UN peacekeeping units in Côte d'Ivoire and the DRC.21 After the coup, he headed the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (SCVD) and became the de facto head of state.22 The putschists stated that the Supreme Internal Affairs Committee "is the supreme authority that develops and directs national policy", and its chairman serves as the head of state and government. 23 The military has announced its intention to start drafting a new constitution and restore civilian rule in the country by February 2011.

On February 20, members of the AFD participated in the 14th summit of the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa in the capital of Mali, Bamako. They tried to convince the international community that they intend to hold new democratic elections in the country as soon as possible. S. Djibo promised to form a special committee to draft a new constitution and hold a national referendum to approve it.

The international community's reaction to the coup was initially negative. On February 19, at an emergency meeting of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, it was decided to suspend Niger's membership in this pan-African organization. A little later, the official representative of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the UN condemns the coup in Niger. The United States called for an "early return to democracy" in Niger and transparent elections. However, for reasons that will be discussed below, France has made some efforts to change the assessment of the military's actions. And soon even the UN was talking about how the coup would serve to democratize the country.24

The military was supported by a large part of the country's population, including well-known politicians who were in opposition to the ousted president. "They don't want to take over power, but only try to save Niger from tyranny," said Mahamadou Kariyo, one of the opposition leaders. On February 20, about 10 thousand people held a demonstration in support of the military in the capital Niamey. "This is a demonstration of support for the coup. We are celebrating the overthrow of the Tanji dictatorship," said former MP Suman Sanda, who led the march on 25.


S. Djibo fulfilled his promise: on October 31, 2010, the Constitution of Niger was adopted by 90% of votes in a constitutional referendum, proclaiming the Seventh Republic.

In early January 2011, the country held municipal elections. They were won by the Niger Party for Democracy and Socialism ( NPDS), a left-wing party that professes the ideology of social democracy. Since 1996, the NPD has been a member of the Socialist International, and its leader, Mahamadou Issoufou, is a vice-president of the Social International. During the reign of M. Tanji, it was the main opposition party in Niger.

At the end of January 2011, presidential and parliamentary elections were held, which restored civilian rule. Head of the Supreme Internal Affairs Committee S. Djibo, who did not run for president, said: "This new start should allow the authorities, freely elected by the Nigerian people, to work and devote all their energies to the development of Niger." After the restoration of civilian rule in the country, S. Djibo was discharged from the army, abandoned his political career and announced that he was returning to his native country.

page 51

native village on the coast of Niger "to fish" 26.

10 candidates competed for the presidency. There were four favorites in the race : M. Issoufou, the head of Government in 1993-1994, who served under the banner of the NPD; Hama Amadou, who was Prime Minister in 2000-2007; M. Ousmane, the first democratically elected president, who ruled in 1993-1996; and Seini Umaru, the former Prime Minister, who represented the ruling PDOR party during the government M. Tanji. Two candidates passed to the second round: M. Issoufou and S. Umaru.

After the first round of elections, S. Umaru, H. Amadou and M. Usman formed an alliance against M. Issoufou.27 Despite this, M. Issoufou received 58% of the vote of Nigerians and became the new president of the country.

M. Issoufou belongs to the Hausa community, ?He studied at the University of Niamey and the University of Paris, and has a degree in engineering and physics and mathematics. From 1980 to 1985 , he was Director of the National Mines of Niger, and later General Secretary of the Niger Mining Company. In 1993, he was appointed Prime Minister, but in 1994 he resigned due to disagreement with the policy of President Usman. After the early parliamentary elections of 1995, M. Issoufou was elected Speaker of the National Assembly.

After the military coup of 1996, he was arrested, but allowed to participate in the presidential elections held under the supervision of the Chairman of the National Salvation Council, I. B. Mainassar, taking 4th place. In 2009, he called on the population to boycott the referendum held by M. Tanji to lift restrictions on the number of terms of re-election. He was arrested and then emigrated to Nigeria. After the coup in 2010, he returned to legal political activities28.

The beginning of the new president's reign was not calm. In July 2011, seven army officers and three civilians were arrested in Niamey on charges of attempting an armed coup. One of the arrested officers, Captain Issa Kunche, was the head of the security service in Djibo. Second Lieutenant Usman Khambali has served in the Presidential Guard since the time of President M. Tanji, and incriminating documents were allegedly found in his computer.

However, in April 2012, a Niger court ordered the release of all the accused for lack of evidence of a crime. Those arrested were released and returned to their previous positions, with the exception of Lieutenant U. Khambali.

This fact has caused some confusion in the Nigerian society. The media wrote that the national security services are trying to prove that they deserve to eat their bread: "Every regime since independence has necessarily had its own coup attempt, which later turned out to be unconfirmed as a result of an investigation. At the same time, those who are periodically found in the company of pseudo-conspirators are never named and punished."29

(The ending follows)

1 Central Intelligence Agency - /publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ng.html; Population statistics -; Народы мира. Historical and ethnographic reference book. Moscow, 1988, pp. 560-561.

Gushchin E. V., Korendyasov E. N. 2 Niger / / Afrika. Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, Moscow, 2010, p. 450.

Rasmussen S. J. 3 Niger -

4 Bakary Djibo // Encyclopedia Britannica -,%20Djibo

5 Niger // Eastmartour -

6 Hamani Diori - 164381/Hamani-Diori

7 Hamani Diori - biographies/IVRepublique/hamani-diori-diori-16061916.asp

8 Niger // Eastmartour...

Meredith M. 9 The State of Africa. L., 2005. P. 222.

10 Ali Saibou -

11 Au Niger, la mort de l'ancien president Ali Saibou -

12 Andre Salifou -

Salifou A. 13 La question touaregue au Niger. Niamey, 1993.

14 Mahamane Ousmane - images/cvpresidents/cvousmane.pdf

15 Niger: Foreign aid - index.php/niger3/3967-niger-inostrannaya-pomoshh.html

16 Mamadou Tandja -

17 Parti MNSD Nassara -

18 Niger: Uranium coup against full Mamadou -

19 Niger's military coup is condemned by France and Africa -

20 Niger: le chef d'escadron Salou Djibo. "president" du CSRD -

21 La junte du Niger annonce des pourparlers apres le putsch - le-putsch/1037/0/425846

22 Un Conseil militaire prend le pouvoir au Niger -

23 The junta in Niger will have full power until new elections are held -

Mirzayan G. 24 The Temptation of uranium -

25 In the capital of Niger, about 10 thousand people demonstrated in support of the coup - http://www.newsru com/world/20feb2010/nn.html

26 Nigeriens. Salou Djibo vous dit... au revoir u-tandja-rebellion-touaregue-ceninigeriens-salou-djibo-vous-dit-au-revoir.html

27 Press Review -

28 Mahamadou Issoufou - images/cvpresidents/cvissoufou.pdf

A.I. 29 Liberation de 10 militaires accuses de coup d'Etat: deux poids, dues mesure an sein meme de l'armee? // Le canard dechaine. 2012. 30 juillet. N 544.


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