1958: The year it all started
As an entity Niger begun existing in 1958 taking advantage of the new French Constitution of 1956. At first it was an autonomous state within the French Community and then on August 03 1960 it became a completely independent state.
It was to be a Democratic State right from the start. That’s why the official name is Republic of Niger. Hamani Diori will go down into the history books as the first president of this republic. However, Niger did not stear clear of the turmoils that seem to be the status quo in African cxountries. In only 58 years of history it has experienced:
The First Republic
Diori stayed as president until 1974. His administration was focused on maintaing good relations with the West and foreign affairs and did very little for the issues of the domestic government. When a devastating drought brought these problems forth, along with accusations for corruption, he was overthrown in the usual African way. A coup d’ etat by the military.
The Supreme Military Council
The person to overthrow Diori was Col Seyni Kountché. His regime lasted until 1987 and it was considered as brutal as any military junta. Civil liberties were limited, people got arrested and imprisoned or executed, there was no freedom of the press (no press anyway!) and 3 other coups were discovered and thwarted. However, the economy was greatly improved and the main reasons for the coup in the first place were dealt with. Kountché died on November 10 1987 and was replaced by Col. Ali Saibou brought forth several reforms and led Niger to
The Second Republic
Now General Saibou won the 1989 elections and became the first president of the second republic. But his reforms were too few and not with the impact he planned. So he fell victim to the trade unions and the student demands for more changes. In response to the demands Saibou called for the National Sovereign Conference of 1991. This conference was actually the turning point of Niger politics as a multi-party Democracy was established fro the first time. But this came at a rather steap price. The economy deteriorated greatly. The 1993 elections brought forth
The Third Republic
Mahamane Ousmane became the one to head the nation under its new constitution. A lot of issues resulted from the implementation of this constitution especialy with the cohabitation of the President and the Prime Minister. The country was virtualy left without a government. Even more problems resulted with the Tuareg and the Tubu groups intensifying their rebellion since 1990 asking for more from the central government.
The National Salvation Council
The outcome of the political turmoil was inevitable. Col. Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara overthrew Ousmane and took over the government. Surprisingly for a military dictatorship, this regime was even more democratic than the previous democratic governments. Maïnassara took the country into a six month transitional period during which a new constitution was drafted and came to effect correcting a lot of the mistakes of the previous one. Maïnassara may have won the election but the replacement of the Electoral Committee during the pre-election campaign cast doubt as to the fairness of the outcome. Nevertheless,
The Fourth Republic
was brought forth as a result of his actions. Maïnassara was the president but he had to contend with the major problem produced by all the changes and the political instability. A ruined economy. He violated a lot of international laws, violated the civil liberties, violated the freedom of the press, organized an unofficial police that persecuted people trying to deal with the unrest that would not let the economy pick up. The result: guess what?
The National Reconcilliation Council
The title may look strange for a military regime. Maj. Daouda Malam Wanké was the organizer of this coup d’ etat and this time it was a miltary regime that led to a pure Democracy. Yet another constitution was written and put in place, one that was based on the French system of government. Wanké stayed away from the elections and
The Fifth Republic
became a reality in November 1999. President: Tandja Mamadou. The first president to survive two consecutive elections. Even though his administration brought forth many reforms that were actually halted since the Third Republic, Mamandou tried to extend his term in office violating the constitution. He conducted a referendum on that which was deemed illegal and unconstitutional and claimed emergency powers after dissolving the Constitutional Court that ruled against him. A new coup was unavoidable.
The Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy
The title is indeed taken up by a military regime. This one was led by captain Salou Djibo who stayed in power for one year until yet one more constitution could be written and brought to effect. The election held at 2011 were regarded as fair and representative bringing forth the current political status which bears the name
The Seventh Republic