Niger

Niger: Did the coup sink the AREVA deal? No.

I.S. Gaoh of LE TEMOIN argues that the just announced scaling back of Areva's Imouraren mine schedule shows that backers of the coup (Hama Amadou?) were part of an agreement that AREVA would get a better uranium deal if Tandja was overthrown. This is built on the false assumption that what Tandja said about his deal was accurate, that it was some sort of hardball defense of Niger's interests (a portion of the ore to be sold on the market by Niger, more Nigerien staff). When in fact, the real hardball was likely more cash upfront to Tandja, on top of the 1.2 billion Euros upfront announced. Since the details are not public, we'll never know, unless the CSRD releases them, as they are unlikely to do. This would embarrass Areva (ergo, the French government) and likely mean Niger would have to repay the money Tandja took.

Gaoh then says that the junta must break the deal now, and go after China or other neocolonial patrons to break France's grip before the next (corrupt) government.

Niger: Military post raided on Mali border

Reports are coming in of an attack by unknown assailants on the army post at Tiloa, a village around 12km from the Malian border. Several soldiers were killed. North of the more inhabited Zarmaganda plateau, Tiola is a tiny stop in the desert north of Tondikiwindi rural commune, Ouallam Department, Tillabéri Region. This is the same area in which Nigerien forces clashed with alleged AQIM members last year after a Saudi hunting party was attacked. It is west southwest of where tourists were kidnapped (likely by AQIM themselves) before that, including one Briton who was murdered. More prosaically, this area, just north of sedentary agriculture ends, is a prime smuggling location and an east-west transit route of Tuareg and Arab nomads between Gao and the Air mountains. It is also 20-30 km north of an area plagued by recurring conflict between sedentary and nomadic communities that goes back to before the 19th century.

Niger: Even Good Coups Get the Blues

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Nigeriens were – are – undoubtedly pleased that the army stepped in to end a newly installed dictatorship. But criticisms of this so called “good coup” are beginning to appear even amongst its strongest supporters. With many months of transitional rule ahead, these whispers give us some idea of the problems the junta will soon face.

Niger: Tandja’s spymaster’s wasted funds

"Norbert" in Niamey's "Le Courrier" paper has interesting piece on the ineffectiveness of Tandja's Interior Minister Abouba Albadé. Albadé, a Tandja-ist of the first water served briefly as PM and importantly headed up the police and internal paramiltary (FNIS) services. He was one of the men most associated with Tandja's power grab. While the author refers to Albadé's well funded "Gestapo", the fall of the President suggests those funds may have gone somewhere other than for intelligence. Le Courrier repeats rumors that Albadé was getting 120,000 Euros a year directly from Tandja. When PM Ali Gamatie (on whom the writer hangs the Hausa slur "Bak'in Bature" : essentially "an Uncle Tom") tried to cut the funds, Albadé went over his head to keep them. The piece ends with a bizarrely obscure Diderot quote from his 1769 harangue against Frederick II ("Pages contre un tyran"), saying that when power praise "truth" while lying, people may only yearn for truth even more. True?

Niger: Council of Ministers names former PM’s offical Secretary General

Niger's state paper reports a preliminary meeting of Ministers were given instruction by the Junta Head of State Cmdt. Salou Djibo on Wednesday (3 March). A "Secretary General" of the Council was named: Mrs. Adama Saliah Gazibo. The report describes her as a Judge, which she is. But she was also one of the chief officials of former PM Hama Amadou, the once scion of Tandja who later became his arch foe. Hama is seen by some conspiratorially minded as the backer of this coup. Adama Saliah Gazibo's appointment won't help this. She is also the official who famously attempted to discredit the slavery testimony of a Nigerienne Mariama Oumarou's at the 2001 Durban racism conference. About the girl, who was married at 15 to a Nigerian by her Tuareg noble master and used as a servant and raped, Saliah said a Niger court "found that the girl's marriage was legitimate under traditional law. This girl should not come here and disgrace her country when the legal process has done its work."

Niger: Short bio of a new Minister and spokesman

Mahaman Laouali Dan Dah, who was appointed by the CSRD junta on Monday as Minister of Secondary Education, has also been appointed spokesman for the new provisional government. Laouali Dan Dah is an interesting character: a gadfly under the Bare regime, he led the Magistrates union SAMAN (syndicat autonome des magistrats du Niger), and was nominated for the CENI electoral commission. After the April 1999 coup he served as Justice Minister, and has since run his own law firm in Niamey. More generally, Laouali Dan Dah seems a representative – if particularly distinguished – member of the provisional government. These are technocratic professionals who have a record of opposing the worst excesses of Nigerien regimes, but have no qualms about working with all other political poles of the society.

Niger: More Tandja loyalists freed

Libération-Niger reports that three security heads were freed from custody: Col. Hamidou Maïgari, head of the 600 man Presidential Guard under Tandja was freed along with a Captain of the same unit. Both were held at Camp Bagagi Iya, best known for the football stadium where the FNIS and Army teams play. The later is headed by junta no 2 Col. Pele Hima Mamadou, coincidentally or not.

As noted earlier, Army Colonel Abdou Sidikou Issa was just transferred to head the FNIS (which commands the Guard). The former FNIS head Colonel Assoumane Abdou remained loyal to Tandja, and is one of only a handful of top commanders to have disappeared from the scene. Most others previously seen as close to Tandja have rallied to the new Junta. Liberation also points out that Col. Bagué, Tandja's Aide de camp (and conflated in some earlier reports with CSRD Secretary Col. Abdoulaye Badie), was released by the junta several days earlier.

Niger: Junta appeals to authority

Like many nations, Nigeriens make a distinction between "political" figures and "National" figures. Of course this distinction is artificial and changeable: deposed President Tandja tried to position himself as "above" politics, as a justification for taking dictatorial powers, and see where that got him. But one of the most interesting re-appearances of the last few weeks is former President-Général (1987-1991/3) Ali Saibou. At the time he was the weak consensus candidate after the death of Seyni Kountché, hard man of the 1974-1991 military Junta. He vacillated about democracy, oversaw a brief bloody crackdown on dissent, and then gave up meekly to a citizens council and stayed on as a figurehead for two years. Living in obscurity, he has been visited by both the coup leaders and the PM in recent days, who hold him up as "a chief of state who loved Niger". With the other living ex-heads of state (Ousmane and Tandja) still active politically, Saibou seems sainted.

Niger: Other appointments for military titans

I've argued that continuity and inclusiveness is the watchword of the new CSRD junta in Niger. Some additional appointments announced today underscore this. Disgraced Tandja Military chief and co-conspirator General Moumouni Boureïma's aide Col Abdou Sidikou Issa is one of the main field commanders to rise from the 99 coup. He was Prefect of Maradi in 99, chief of the Zinder Defence Zone at the beginning of the recent Tuareg conflict, and moved in the highest army circles. He's now been named as the head of the FNIS the paramilitary force of the Interior Ministry, which also runs the Presidential Guard. Général de Brigade Seyni Garba, one of the four Joint Chief generals thought loyal to Tandja and Boureima (along with Mai Manga Oumara, Abdou Kaza, and Mamadou Ousseini, now all Ministers) is Inspector General of the Gendarmerie. Pele Hima Hamadou, presumed Junta no. 2, is made Counselor to the President with Rank of Minister: so technically that's six officers now ministers.

Niger: Junta names new military joint chiefs

While Monday's announcement kicked three long standing generals up to provisional ministers, the junta in Niger has named the new joint chiefs, with continuity to the fore (again). Those how moved up to ministerial positions were replaced by their adjutants. Air Corps General Souleymane (Seyni) Salou, one of the four officers favored by Tandja, is now Joint Chief, with the only obvious political casualty of the coup former joint Chief Général de Division Moumouni Boureima still under arrest. With Gen. Mamadou Ousseini a Minister, his adjutant Col. Salifou Mody (Modi) is head of the Army. He's another member of the Junta and member of the 99 junta. Air Col. Hassane Mossi, the former adjutant becomes head of Air Forces. He too is on the CSRD junta. Their assistants are previously anonymous Colonels Didili Amadou (to the Chief), Iro Oumarou (Army), and Issa Hamza (air). Note that Gen Seyni Salou, for having been bought off by Tandja, now appears beside Djibo Salou in meetings.