Niger Government and Politics

State and politics

Niger Country Flag

Niger has since 1960 been characterized by political instability, fueled by drought, fragile economy and ethnic tensions. Military coup governments have replaced each other and most shifts in power have created a new constitution.

GOVERNMENT

The current Constitution is the country’s seventh and was passed in a referendum in October 2010, eight months after a military junta deposed former President Mamadou Tandja.

The Constitution of the “Seventh Republic” states that a President may sit in power for a maximum of two terms of office, each of five years. The president is head of state and commander-in-chief. To be elected, a candidate must receive more than 50 percent of the vote; if this is not achieved in the first round, a second, decisive round is arranged between the two candidates who received the most votes in the first. All the country’s presidents since independence in 1960 have been men.

Parliament (National Assembly) has the legislative power. Of the 171 members elected in the 2016 election, 25 (15 percent) were women.

Policy

When Mamadou Tandja was overthrown, as late as August 2009, he had undergone constitutional changes that would have in practice enabled him to be re-elected an unlimited number of times. He had also dissolved the Constitutional Court, since it rejected his draft constitutional amendments, and arranged parliamentary elections which were boycotted by the entire opposition. Tandja’s total takeover of power led to Niger being temporarily suspended from participation in the West African cooperation organization ECOWAS.

Tandja was deposed in a military coup in February 2010 and in October the same year a referendum was held on a new constitution. In addition to reintroducing a limited number of terms of office for the president, it also establishes increased transparency about the country’s mineral extraction and obliges the state to secure a larger share of the revenues from, among other things, uranium, gold and oil.

New elections for civilian leaders were conducted in the winter of 2011. In the presidential election, Social Democrat Mahamadou Issoufou, Prime Minister from 1993-94, won by 36 percent of the votes in the first round and 58 percent in the second. His party, the Party of Nigeria for the Democracy and Socialism (PNDS-Tarayya), received the most seats (37 out of 113) in the new parliament. The party strengthened its hold when it captured 75 of 171 seats in the 2016 election.

In the 2016 presidential election, Issoufou received 48 percent of the vote in the first round and Hama Amadou, former prime minister and president of parliament, 18 percent. Both were allies before and after the 2011 election but have been political opponents since 2013. Amadou was detained during the 2016 election campaign, accused of being involved in child trafficking. He himself claimed that the charges were politically motivated. The opposition called for a boycott of the decisive round, which according to official figures attracted 59 percent of the electorate and won by Issoufou with 92 percent of the vote.

Judiciary

The general courts consist of peacemakers (petty courts), courts of first instance and an appellate court. Material law is strongly influenced by French law, but customary law predominates in family law. The death penalty remains in the penal code but is de facto abolished in 1976.

Heads of State

Presidents

1960-74 Hamani Diori
1974-87 Seyni Kountché
1987-93 Ali Saïbou
1993-96 Mahamane Ousmane
1996-99 Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara
1999 Daouda Malam Wanké
1999-2010 Mamadou Tandja
2010-11 Salou Djibo
2011- Mahamadou Issoufou

Niger Head of Government

History. – Under the leadership of H. Diori, President of the Republic and secretary general of the Parti Progressiste Nigérien (PPN, actually conservative and pro-Western), Niger has shown political stability for over a decade after the independence proclaimed on 4 August 1960. In April 1974 a military coup brought Col. Seyni Kountché. The new regime – which thwarted two subversive attempts in August 1975 and March 1976 – tried to protect national interests, among other things by imposing restrictions on foreigners for certain economic activities and by renegotiating the agreement for the exploitation of uranium; it has also achieved some economic progress, despite having to face the very serious damage of drought.

The Sawaba party, oriented to the left and fighting for independence in the referendum of 1958, banned in 1959 (the leader Djbo Bakari went into exile), remained active for a few years, until he made an attempt on Diori’s life in 1965, with the alleged support of Ghana. After all opposition was extinguished and a certain contrast between the bureaucracy, accused of corruption, and the cadres of the PPN, Diori acquired ever greater prestige, also internationally (he was mediator between Chad and Sudan in 1967, and between Libya and Chad in 1972). Basic in Diori’s foreign policy, collaboration with France, from which he received financial, technical and military aid (France in 1971 began the exploitation of the uranium of the Niger), adherence to the Council of Understanding and participation to the cooperation organizations of French-speaking African countries; relations with France deteriorated around 1972, while those with Nigeria strengthened.

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