Niger. President Mamadou Tandja was deposed in a military coup on February 19. About ten people were killed in fighting in connection with the coup. The new military junta, which called itself the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (Conseil Suprême pour la Restoration de la Democracy, CSRD), placed Tandja and his ministers in house arrest and repealed the constitution.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Niger has a population of 22.44 million (2018). Tandja himself had made amendments to the constitution in 2009 in order to be re-elected. For that he had received harsh criticism internationally, but even the coup against him was condemned abroad and large amounts of aid were frozen. The African Union suspended Niger. However, the new junta was received with enthusiasm within the country, especially as it promised a swift return to civilian rule.
The leader of the CSRD, and thus the provisional head of state, was a major unknown to the public by the name of Salou Djibo. Former Minister of Communications Mahamadou Danda was appointed to lead a new government, largely composed of civilians.
In addition to arresting many leading politicians with close ties to Tandja, the junta also dismissed 20 high-ranking officials at state-owned companies in the uranium and oil industries, among others.
In June, a new electoral commission was appointed with the task of organizing new elections in early 2011. A constitutional council, appointed by the junta and with representatives of the political parties and social organizations and legal experts, wrote a new constitution approved by the government in August. The President shall henceforth be allowed to sit for a maximum of two five-year terms. The Constitution attaches great importance to the publication of all contracts for mineral extraction and to the prohibition of secret clauses. The state will increase its share of the income natural resources provide and companies will be required to employ domestic labor to a greater extent. At the end of October, the new constitution was approved by more than 90 percent of the participants in a referendum.
- Abbreviation Finder: Check to see how the two letter abbreviation of NG stands for the country of Niger in geography.
Before that, plans for a coup against the coup makers had been revealed. Four Junta members as well as the head of the intelligence service were arrested in October accused of planning to murder Salou Djibo and abort the return to democracy.
Alongside the political drama, Niger suffered an acute supply crisis following failed harvests. About 8 million people, or about half the population, were reported to suffer from food shortages. The United Nations Food Program, WFP, increased its distribution of food to 4.7 million people. In August, the crisis was exacerbated by extensive flooding, which destroyed the crops that have survived the drought. Thousands of livestock drowned.
According to softwareleverage, Niger also had problems with the Algerian terror group al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which operates in the Sahara desert. In February, AQIM killed five soldiers in a suicide attack against an army posting in western Niger and in September kidnapped seven foreigners – five Frenchmen, one Togoles and one Madagascan.
Niger is one of the most depressed states on Earth, so much so that it occupies one of the last places in the world ranking of countries classified in descending order with respect to the human development index drawn up by the United Nations which effectively expresses the level of economic and social development, combining the data (2008) of the average life expectancy at birth (44 years), the literacy rate (29%) and the per capita income adjusted for the purchasing power capacity (700 dollars).
- The economy is essentially based on agriculture, practicable only on 5% of the territory, made irrigated at times by canals that derive water from the Niger river. Most of the cultivated land is used for basic crops for local food (millet, sorghum, rice, cassava, yams, onions, etc.), which however do not cover the needs; however, there is no shortage of products destined for the foreign market, represented by sugar cane, cotton and tobacco. The zootechnical patrimony, although decimated by the drought, counts more than 11 million heads of sheep and goats, and over 2 million cattle.
- The industrial apparatus has little consistency (cement factories, textile and food manufactures), but the Niger can count on an appreciable income from extractive activities, even if the sector is disadvantaged by the difficulties of land communications and the lack of access to the sea (which obliges us to use the port of Cotonou, in Benin). Niger is among the leading world producers of uranium ores (3400 t exported in 2006), extracted from the Arlit and Akoutu fields, whose reserves are also destined to run out in the near future. Since 2004 the industrial production of gold has been started (28,000 kg per year), on which the government is counting for a diversification of mining activities.
- The trade balance is chronically passive, since the proceeds from exports of uranium and other minerals (approx. 60% of the value of exports), as well as agricultural products, do not allow to cope with the large imports of food products, and petroleum derivatives. Main trading partners are neighboring Nigeria and France. Lacking railways, the Niger has a road network of about 14,000 km, only a quarter of which is asphalted and passable in any season. The Niger is burdened by a large foreign debt and a strong dependence on international aid.