Tag Archive for Tandja

Niger: Greenpeace reoprt on the Nuclear poisoning of Niger

Greenpeace’s 30 March report on radioactivity levels in the streets of Arlit and its suburb Akokan has been repeatedly denied by French nuclear company AREVA, the operator of the two nearby mines. These two (one underground, one open pit) provide almost half Niger’s exports by value, and their “success” is the basis for the some 150 mining contracts sold by the Tandja regime, mostly to Canadian and Chinese companies. Locals have long complained of the pollution from the Somair and Cominak mines. Franco Nigerien group CRIIRAD found radioactivity levels 100 times background in 2007. Construction of roads and buildings was done using radioactive mine tailings, while mine dust blows across the region from Somair pit. With the entire Talak plain west of the Aïr Massif now being sold for mining, the northern seasonal pasture lands upon which pastoralism depends will soon disappear or become polluted beyond use. This has long been known, and it is good to see renewed press attention.

Niger: Arrests continue

The arrests I noted earlier continued Monday, with at least 13 figures being held at the Gendarmerie, including top leaders who rallied to Tandja’s 6th Republic in 2009: former PM and MNSD party leader Seini Oumarou, Mohamed Ben Omar and Moktar Kassoum…

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: Canadian gold company reporting two new strikes

The Canadian run Samira Hill mine near the Niger/Burkina border reports two new expansions. Pres. Tandja received the first gold bar in 07, and apparently signed big deals in 2009, of which this is fruition. SEMAFO CEO Benoit La Salle: "The Samira Horizon remains an important mining district for SEMAFO, hence our decision earlier this year to proceed with a two-year $6,000,000 exploration program on the property…. We are encouraged by these new discoveries at Samira Hill, the results of which may become part of our reserves and resources base and ultimately extend mine life. We believe that our continued exploration programs to fully define the property will ultimately benefit from existing infrastructures and contribute to increase value for our shareholders." It would be interesting to see the full contracts signed with the Tandja government, and where that cash went, and to see if any went to protect the nearby W Transboundry Park from the arsenic pools used to process ore.

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: 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.