The Nigerien military, led by Salou Djibo, has handed over power to democratically elected President Mahamadou Issoufou. The military ousted strongman Mamadou Tandja 14 months ago after he attempted to extend his rule beyond the term limit. Twice now, the last time being in 1999, the Nigerien military has intervened in politics in support of democracy.
The new president has promised to tackle poverty and famine in the uranium-rich country.
Former president Tandja had been in power since 1999. In late 2009 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. This forced the military to step in. Mr. Tandja’s 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.
My doubts were misplaced, thank goodness. Soldiers in Niger have overseen elections, one year after overthrowing Mamadou Tandja. President Tandja had attempted to cling on to power after he was term-limited. Gen. Salou Djibo, head of the military junta that carried out the coup one year ago, vowed to hand over power to the elected government in April.
The run-off election pitted opposition leader Mahamadou Issoufou against Seini Oumarou, an ally of the ousted former President Tandja. Mr. Issoufou won 36% of the vote in the first round and is confident of winning the runoff.
Uranium-rich Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world. Nominal per capita income in the country is $370 (Around $700 PPP). The literacy rate (15 years and older) is a dismal 29%. Fertility rate stands at 7.6 children per woman and 63% of its 16.4 million people live below the poverty line.