Nigerien president Mamadou Tandja has been ousted in a military coup. An announcement on national radio stated that the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy was now in charge of the country. The council includes Col. Salou Djibo (the leader) and and four other colonels.The president and members of his cabinet are being held at a military barracks outside the capital Niamey after they were seized during a cabinet meeting.
Mr. Tandja had been president since 1999. Last year he was supposed to leave office at the end of his two terms but amended the constitution in a sham referendum allowing him to stay on for a third term. His presidency did not do much for Niger’s 15 million odd citizens. 63% of them continue to live on less than a dollar a day.
It is almost tempting to say good riddance, but given the track record of military rule (remember Guinea?) in West Africa the Nigeriens may have jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. Only time will tell. In the meantime condemnation of the coup and calls for an immediate return to democracy keep coming from the AU, ECOWAS, EU and other concerned parties. How things never change.
News reports indicate that the Nigerien leader is being held by soldiers in the capital in an apparent coup attempt. President Tandja recently extended his rule after the constitutionally mandated two term limit claiming that no one in Niger was good enough to replace him. He had French backing. The French are investing in a Uranium mine in the northern reaches of the Sahelian state. Official France was complicit in the sham referendum in which 92% of Nigeriens supposedly voted to extend Mr. Tandja’s rule so he could personally supervise the projects he had started. Mamadou Tandja has been president of Niger since 1999.
I am not fan of coups. Junior army officers make horrible presidents – just ask the Liberians about one Samuel Doe. That said, President Tandja must go. And his French connections should be exposed for what they are: illegal networks designed to continue to impoverish the vast majority of the country’s 15 million souls while a few French companies and the president’s men enrich themselves from Uranium, Gold and oil exports.
Per capita income in Niger stands at US $700. 63% if Nigeriens live below the poverty line of 1 dollar a day. Life expectancy in Niger is 52 years and the country has the 4th worst record of infant mortality in the world – about 116 deaths per 1000 births. The 2009 Human Development Index report places the country last out of 182 countries ranked, with an HDI value of 0.34. Mr. Tandja is clearly doing an excellent job as president.
sources: the CIA world fact book and the UNDP Human Development Index report
And in other news…. aren’t we at least supposed to respect those that we are helping. Here’s a quote from Care for the Children about photos of needy children that they use in their fundraising:
“We don’t keep records of individuals in our photographs. We don’t know when this photograph was taken, or where. We can only guess it was somewhere in Africa. Or maybe Haiti.”
Nice. Read more here