Niger. The military junta that took power in February 2010 kept its promise to quickly return government responsibility to democratically elected leaders. In January, local and regional elections were held first and then parliamentary and presidential elections.
According to Countryaah official site, the election of a new president was decided in a second round in March, after neither Social Democrat Mahamadou Issoufou nor former Prime Minister Seini Oumarou, who stood close to the ousted President Mamadou Tandja, received an absolute majority of the votes. The days before the second round of elections, representatives of the military, parties, trade unions, voluntary organizations, religious communities, the media and traditional chieftains gathered at the junta’s initiative and entered into a “Stability Pact” in which they promised each other respect for the constitution and foster dialogue and consensus.
In the decisive round, Issoufou won by a good margin over its competitor Oumarou. As prime minister, he appointed Brigi Rafini, a former minister and member of parliament who belongs to the Tuareg minority people. Issoufou’s Social Democratic Party PNDS (the Nigerian Party for Democracy and Socialism) became the largest in Parliament.
Issoufou also created a new authority to fight corruption, which is a major problem in the poor country. Less than two months after the new government took office, the Minister of Budget and two high-ranking officials were dismissed following an extensive embezzlement deal. The public was given the opportunity to tell the authorities about suspected corruption via a special telephone number. Issoufou also promised to investigate how the corresponding € 129 million disappeared from the Treasury during the previous term of office of former President Tandja.
Following the accession of the new government, the EU repealed the sanctions that have been in force since 2009, when Tandja tried to cling to power by changing the constitution. In a first step, the EU transferred € 25 million, mainly for education and health care.
The Nigerian government needs all the help it can get. In addition to suffering an almost chronic famine – in 2011, more than 2.6 million people were estimated to have insufficient food – the Algerian terrorist group al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb poses a growing threat.
However, the potentially biggest disaster this year was for Niger’s civil war in northern neighboring Libya. The war drove more than 200,000 Nigerian workers back to their homeland, where there were no resources to take care of them. Their return led to a large loss of money sent back, which formed an important part of the Nigerian economy, but also led in their directions to unrest and increased crime. Trade with Libya also stopped as well as joint projects. the construction of a new highway through the desert. The government was forced to shrink the budget for 2011 by 6.6% as a result of reduced tax revenues.
Even more dangerous was probably the amount of weapons and ammunition that came into operation in Libya and smuggled into Niger. In June, the security service seized a large arms shipment, probably intended for al Qaeda. There were also strong fears that returning Tuareg warriors who had been in the al-Khadaffi regime in Libya would bring the dormant conflict between the state and Tuaregs to life again.