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NIGER: Military Coup Leaders Dissolve Government,

Nyhet   •   Feb 19, 2010 17:20 CET

Niger  - Military Coup Leaders Dissolve Government,

A group of soldiers identifying themselves as the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (CSRD) led by Salou Djibo has taken responsibility for the Feb. 18 coup against President Mamadou Tandja. Spokesperson Colonel Goukoye Abdoulkarim read a statement on state television several hours later announcing that the group has suspended the constitution and dissolved the government.

Abdoulkarim also ordered a dusk-to-dawn curfew (1800-0600) and the closures of the country's air and land borders. Foreign diplomats and local residents report that Tandja and several government ministers were taken from the presidential palace in Niamey after an hour-long gun battle. Tandja's current location is unknown, but reports indicate the president is being held along with several government ministers in a military installation in Tondibia, about 20 km (15 miles) west of the capital.

Markets, banks and schools in Niger's capital opened as usual today  , and the only soldiers on the streets were few and lightly armed.

The international community condemned the overthrow, but diplomats and analysts said it could create an opportunity to hold elections that were postponed by Tandja's unpopular constitutional reform in 2009.

Tandja drew criticism and sanctions after dissolving parliament and orchestrating a constitutional reform in 2009 that gave him added powers and extended his term beyond his second five-year mandate, which expired in December.

The reform removed most checks on his authority, abolished term limits, and gave him three more years in power without an election. Tandja justified it by saying he needed extra time to complete large-scale investment projects.

ECOWAS, which has for months tried to broker a solution to the deadlock between Tandja and the opposition, has already said it would punish any unconstitutional power-grab.

What people say:

South African President Jacob Zuma has condemned the military coup in Niger, saying it was unconstitutional and threatened peace and security in the West African region

The African Union, France, and ECOWAS, have all condemned the coup in Niger, a day after dissident soldiers seized the president and dissolved the constitution.

A senior US official indicated that Niger's President Mamadou Tandja only has himself to blame for Thursday's coup in the west African nation.

Stakeholders:

Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (CSRD)

  • Colonel Goukoye Abdoulkarim - Spokesperson
  • Salou Djibo –Leader
  • Djibril Hamidou
  • Abdoulaye Adamou Harouna

Overthrown Government of Niger

  • Mamadou Tandja –President

Niger - BACKGROUND

Population of 15.3 million according to a 2009 estimate Declared independence from France in 1960 Official language French with several local languages also spoken.

 Main religion Islam with Christian minority in south and traditional African religions also practiced

One of world's leading producers of uranium, accounting for about 7.5 per cent of world's supply Two-thirds of country is desert, with only fertile area along Niger