Niger: First provisional government

The CSRD Junta has named (1 March) a provisional government of 20 ministers. Apart form President Salou Djibo, there are five military men all from the highest levels, including Generals Mamadou Ousseini, Mai Manga Oumara, Abdou Kaza who were just below Tandja's Military Chief Boureima, and considered loyalists to that regime. They are joined by Colonels Ahmed Mohamed and Diallo Amadou who were members of Wanke's 1999 junta. Their five portfolios make this the most military officers in a government since Gen. Ali Saibou's 11 March 1991 government, the last prior to democratization. The only other new Minister (other than PM Danda) to have served at this level: Minister of Education Dan Dah, who was Justice Minister under Wanke. Of the less known remaining, five are women, the most of any Nigerien government. Only time will tell if these civilian ministers hold powerful posts past the transition, or are influential over the junta.

Niger: With Tandja out, aid groups can talk about famine

Abdoulaye Tiemogo, Editor of Niamey opposition paper Le Canard Dechaine, is quoted in this well done AP article "Niger: Once-taboo topic of hunger spoken again".
Niger's first post-independence coup came amid another food crisis in 1974, and "the soldiers who took power justified it by saying the president at the time could not feed the population… That's why they're still afraid of words like famine," said Tiemogo, who spent three months in prison and seven in exile for publishing articles critical of Tandja. A government report in December on the country's latest food crisis may have only come to light because Tiemogo obtained a leaked copy… The failure to publish accurate statistics can have "dramatic consequences," Tiemogo said. "If you don't know what's really going on, you can't react to it, and it's the population that suffers. People die."

Niger: The composition of the CSRD announced

Libération-Niger reports that Cmdt. Salou Djibou has announced the membership of the CSRD junta. They are:
Président : Le Chef d'Escadron SALOU DJIBO
• Secrétaire Permanent : Colonel ABDOULAYE BADIE
• Membres du Conseil :
• Colonel GOUKOYE ABDOULKARIM, Porte-parole du Conseil ;
• Colonel SALIFOU MODY ;
• Lieutenant-Colonel ADAMOU GARBA ;
• Lieutenant-Colonel AMADOU MADOUGOU WONKOYE ;
• Lieutenant-Colonel CHAÏBOU IDRISSA ;
• Lieutenant-Colonel ABOUBACAR AMADOU SANDA ;
• Lieutenant-Colonel MAMANE SOULEY ;
• Chef de Bataillon ABDOURAMANE IBRAHIM ;
• Lieutenant ISSA AMADOU ;
• Sous-Lieutenant ARZIKA TCHIEMOGO.

Niger: Behind the scenes at a coup

Christophe Boisbouvier in Jeune Afrique was a veritable "Roman de cle", detailing how the February 18 Coup happened behind the scenes, according to his inside sources. I haven't the room to detail every revelation, but here are some of the top.

Tandja cut the pay and dismisses 37 members of the Presidential Guard in February. When the attack came, it was only elements of this FNIS unit that resisted, while others helped the attackers. He had delivered regular bribes (as detailed in a previous piece by Boisbouvier) to the Joint chiefs of 30 000 to 76 000 euros, but nothing for anyone else. He even made large payments to the former Tuareg rebel leaders to assure their peace deal. The coup was finalized at a 10AM meeting at the Supply Camp run by Djibo, along with a Captain Sirfi of the Air Corps who had contacts in the FNIS unit guarding Tandja. Pele and other top officers were not present at the coup, and the President and Ministers were quickly captured, but allowed their phones.

Niger´s junta puts all mining contracts “under study”?

Xinhua picks out a phrase in CSRD spokesman Col Goukoye's statement on the 24th for scrutiny. Scrutiny indeed, as this is China, France, and Canada's biggest concern. Goukoye declared that all mining contracts were certainly going to be looked at more carefully and that "everything is going to be done in equity and justice." Referring to possible corruption charges against past officials, he said: "We are definitely going to hold those state officials accountable. That is a priority. An absolute priority. It is a must that we do this and instructions have been given to those charged with this issue to ensure that the payments that are supposed to be done at the expiry date are made at that time." Remember that Col. Hima Hamidou, number three or four in the 1999 junta and number two now, was on a corruption commission shortly after Ibrahim Bare Mainassara was overthrown. It's August 1999 conclusion recovered some 2000M CFA but no high profile convictions. Expect a similar result.

Niger: Who’s under arrest, Mk. IV

Liberation (Niamey) reports Col. Gukoye (the CSRD spokesman) listed out yesterday (24th) who the junta currently has under arrest apart from Tandja. And despite the statements previously that these people were released, they are "under arrest", not just under surveillance in their homes. They are (all "former"): PM Ali Badjo Gamatié, Minister of Justice Garba Lompo, Minister of Finance Ali Lamine Zeine, Minister of Mines Mohamed Abdoulahi, Minister of Equipment Lamido Mounouni and Interior Minister Albadé Abouba. This leaves out two formerly reported, MNSD party head Seini Oumarou and Foreign Minister Aichatou Mindaoudou.

Niger: Junta names Prime Minister, brings in men from Saibou era.

Following the Monday night communique outlining the transitional authority of the CSRD, The junta President Salou Djibo has named as Prime Minister Mahmadou Danda, the former interim Communications Minister during the 1999 junta's interim rule. Danda has served the government since the 80s, and most recently as Sport Minister in 2000 (under Tandja). He was until now working for the Canadian Embassy, one of the nations most involved in uranium and gold mines. As interesting, Salou's new Personal Chief of Military Staff is Colonel Amadou Moussa Gros. Gros rose under Gen. Ali Saibou's military rule in the 80s, becoming Min. of Tourism. An old friend of Tandja's, he served the brief MNSD government of Hama Amadou in 1995 that was overthrown by Bare. Bare later reactivated him, and made him Chief of Staff. Of late he has been head of a military charitable group, the AAETN. To top this off, Salou went to visit Saibou himself to receive the blessing of the old President and his family.