Just when you’d like to put it to bed, the constitutional crisis in Niger continues, weaving like a distracted taxi driver: from sigh to scream and back again.
I’ll focus a bit on three events of importance. After Tandja sent out a letter lecturing the Constiutional Court on their decision to stop his referendum, his main parliamentary ally — Ousmane’s CDS Rahama — finally pulled out of government. Ousmane, known for his sly political mauvering, finally yanked the plug, along with his eight members of the council of ministers. There are reports that the Minister of Defence (a CDS man) and one other want to stay on, so that will be interesting to watch.
Between this and Hama Amadou launching a split from the ruling MNSD Nassara (pithily named the “Mouvement Démocratique Nigérien pour une fédération africaine-MODEN/FA Lumana Africa”) Tandja/Ousmane haven’t a chance to survive the August 20 National Assembly election. The CDS has launched its own anti-Tazartché front (the MMD) to oppose the PNDS‘s FFD front. Assuming Hama, the ANDP (also assuming the rumors that they will join Hama’s new party en masse are untrue) and the Unions stay with the FFD, that coalition will form the next government. That is assuming the government abides by the election.
The 25 June General Strike, the first action taken by all seven of the Trades Union confederations, is the second big news. This was the first real successful general strike since the advent of the Vth Republic, and despite the press reports, there were real economic concerns amongst the political. There’s not been a government pay raise since 2005-6, mining unions are agitated by government negotiation tactics, and (crucially) the strike leaders complained that the current government is blocking access to the press by labor leaders.
Again, there are claims the Chiefs of the military have said they will take no part, but after the riots in Dosso, there were reports on the 24th that army vehicles were patrolling Niamey from 18:00 each night.
A side note, some of the best cometary on this kerfuffle has come from the Burkinabé press. Kader Traoré writing for L’Obsevateur and this unsigned editorial at Le Pays are two good examples. When will Blaise Compaoré run again?
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