Politics of Niger

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Niger

Politics of Niger takes place in a framework of a semi-presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Niger is head of state and the Prime Minister of Niger head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly.

Political parties and elections[edit]

Fifth Republic[edit]

Continuity[edit]

Since the creation of the Fifth Republic in 1999, the political rivalries and parties of the Third Republic have maintained their central role in national politics. There continue to be three large parties, and several smaller ones, with no single party gaining a majority in the National Assembly of Niger. In the Third Republic a coalition of the CDS and PNDS was formed with many small parties, in part to keep the former military party of the MNSD out of power.[1] This coalition collapsed in recriminations in 1995, leading to a PNDS and MNSD government facing a CDS President. The bad blood and gridlock which resulted was one of the reasons given for General Maïnassara's 1996 Nigerien coup d'etat.[2]

The same three men who dominated the parties in the Third Republic returned in 1999: Mamadou Tanja for the MNSD-Nassara, Mahamadou Issoufou of the PNDS, and Mahamane Ousmane of CDS-Rahama.

1999 elections[edit]

Following another coup in April 1999, in which Maïnassara was killed, the MNSD-Nassara's Tandja won the October 1999 presidential election.[3]

In the October 1999 National Assembly Election, the MNSD won 38 of the 83 seats, forming a government under Hama Amadou with the support of CDS-Rahama's 17 seats. The PNDS led the opposition with 16 seats, but the continued antagonism between Mahamadou Issoufou and Mahamane Ousmane meant that no other coalition was available. ANDP-Zaman Lahiya, a former split for the MNSD held only four seats.[3] In 2002, this coalition was shored up when the ANDP joined the parliamentary majority coalition, the Alliance of Democratic Forces, leaving the opposition Coordination of Democratic Forces.[4] Djermakoye joined the government as a Minister of State in November 2002, serving in that position until December 2004.[5]

2004 elections[edit]

While Tandja easily retained the presidency against a second round challenge by Mahamadou Issoufou, the 2004 National Assembly elections were closer. The PNDS formed a coalition to contest the expanded 113 seats of the National Assembly, which also included the UNI (2 seats), the PPN (2), and the PNA-Al'ouma (4). With the PNDS' 17 seats this coalition took 25 seats. The MNSD remained the largest party at 47 seats, be relied again on CDS-Rahama's 22 seats to govern. A minor portfolios in the Council of Ministers were given to two smaller parties as well, the RDP-Jama'a (6 seats) and ANDP-Zaman Lahiya (5 seats). RSD-Gaskiya (7 seats) and PSDN-Alheri (1 seat) remained aloof of both blocs.[6]

2007 PM crisis[edit]

In December 2004 Hama Amadou was again chosen as Prime Minister. Mahamane Ousmane, the head of the CDS, was re-elected President of the National Assembly. The new second term government of the Fifth Republic took office on 30 December 2004. In June 2007, a no confidence vote against the government led to the fall of the Prime Minister Hama Amadou and his ministers. Amadou was replaced by Seyni Oumarou, also of the president's MNSD-Nassara party, leading to infighting within a portion of the party still loyal to Amadou.[7] Broad changes were made to the Council of Ministers of Niger, with MNSD-Nassara continuing to take the majority of portfolios, but with the CDS, RDP-Jama'a, and NDP-Zaman Lahiya retaining Ministerial appointments.

Tazarce[edit]

In the run up to the 2009 elections (Presidential, Assembly, and Municipal), a movement to draft President Tandja for a third term appeared. Led by public figures of the MNSD outside government, the group took the name of Tandja's 2004 re-election slogan, Tazarce: a Hausa word meaning "Continuity". Through several well funded and well attended public rallies in late 2008, the President remained silent on the calls for him to remain.[8] The 1999 constitution made the serving of more than two term impossible (article 36), and the revision of that article illegal by any means (article 136). The Prime Minister Seyni Oumarou reiterated on 22 January that all scheduled elections would go ahead before the end of 2009.[9] In March, during his meetings with French President Sarkozy, Tandja explicitly stated that he would not seek a third term.[10]

Then, in early May 2009, when questioned by the press on his visit to Agadez to begin peace talks with Tuareg rebels, Tandja announced that "the people have demanded I remain."[11] His spokesman then outlined a plan in which a referendum could be held in mid-2009, not to amend the 1999 constitution, but to scrap it and begin work on a constitution of the Sixth Republic of Niger, which would contain no term limits for the President, and create a fully Presidential republic.[12] [13] [14] [15]

On 15 May 2009, in response to their parties opposition to a proposed referendum to allow the President to seek a third term, the three members of RDP-Jama'a and ANDP-Zaman Lahiya were replaced with ministers drawn from the MNSD-Nassara. With the continued support of the CDS, the MNSD maintained a working majority of 67 seats in the 113 seat National Assembly.[16]

According to the 1999 Constitution of Niger, the President may call a referendum on any matter (except for a revision of those elements of the Constitution outlined in Article 136—including the presidential term limits). The Constitutional Court of Niger and the National Assembly of Niger must advise the president, but there is no provision that the president must heed their advice. On 25 May 2009, the Constitutional Court, made up of appointed judges, released a ruling that any referendum to create a new constitution would be unconstitutional, and further would be a violation of the oath the president had taken on the Koran (a serious matter in this overwhelmingly Muslim country).[17][18] The week prior, two major parties had come out in their opposition to the referendum proposal as well. On 13 May, the ANDP-Zaman Lahiya, led by former MNSD number two Djermokoye declared its opposition to any change in the constitution. On 15 May the CDS-Rahama, the party without which the MNSD could not have formed governments in 1999, 2004, and 2007, came out opposing the referendum, and calling the constitution unalterable.[19][20] Neither party moved into the opposition, and both Ousmane and Djermokoye said they were willing to negotiate with the president.[21]

On 26 March, within hours of the Constitutional courts statement, official media read out a statement that President Tandja had dissolved the National Assembly.[22] Under the 1999 Constitution he is allowed to do once every two years,[23] but he must call parliamentary elections with three months. This would mean the government of Niger would carry out scheduled parliamentary elections in September, two months early, and a referendum on a new constitution before Presidential elections which can take place no later than December, assuming the 1999 constitution is in effect.

2010 Coup[edit]

On 19 February a group calling itself the Supreme Council for Restoration of Democracy (CSRD) stormed the presidential palace during a meeting and took the president Mamadou Tandja hostage. Colonel Goukoye Abdul Karimou, spokesman for CSRD announced on state television that the country's constitution had been suspended and all state institutions dissolved. It is believed that the president is being held in a garrison in the capital city with his resignation being sought. [24]

Political parties[edit]

For other political parties see List of political parties in Niger. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Niger.

Elections[edit]

e • d Summary of the 31 January and 12 March 2011 Nigerien presidential election results
Candidates – Parties 1st round 2nd round
Votes % Votes %
Mahamadou IssoufouNigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism 1,217,527 36.06 1,820,639 57.95
Seyni OumarouNational Movement for the Development of Society 784,618 23.24 1,321,248 42.05
Hama AmadouNigerien Democratic Movement for an African Federation 669,153 19.82
Mahamane OusmaneDemocratic and Social Convention 284.188 8.42
Amadou CheiffouSocial Democratic Rally 137,501 4.07
Moussa Moumouni DjermakoyeNigerien Alliance for Democracy and Progress 133,222 3.95
Ousmane Issoufou OubandawakiAlliance for Democratic Renewal 65,077 1.93
Amadou CisséUnion for Democracy and the Republic 54,218 1.61
Abdoulaye Amadou Traoré 18,116 0.54
Bayard Mariama Gamatié 12,991 0.38
Total (turnout 50.4%/48.2%) 3,376,611 100.00 3,141,887 100.00
Source: senego.com, senego.com
e • d Summary of the 31 January 2011 National Assembly of Niger election results
Parties Votes % Seats
Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (Parti Nigerien pour la Democratie et le Socialisme–Tarayya) 39
National Movement for the Development of Society (Mouvement National de la Societé de Développement–Nassara) 26
Nigerien Democratic Movement for an African Federation (Mouvement Démocratique Nigérien pour une Fédération Africaine–Lumana Africa) 23
Nigerien Alliance for Democracy and Progress (Alliance Nigérienne pour la Démocratie et le Progrès–Zaman Lahiya) 8
Rally for Democracy and Progress (Rassemblement pour la Démocratie et le Progrès–Jama'a) 7
Union for Democracy and the Republic (Union pour la Démocratie et la République–Tabbat) 6
Democratic and Social Convention (Convention Démocratique et Sociale–Rahama) 3
National Union of Independents (Union Nationale des Indépendants) 1
Total (turnout %) 113
Source: senego.com

Constitution[edit]

Main article: Constitution of Niger

The constitution of December 1992 was revised by national referendum on 12 May 1996 and, again, by referendum, revised to the current version on 18 July 1999. It restored the semi-presidential system of government of the December 1992 constitution (Third Republic) in which the president of the republic, elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term, and a prime minister named by the president share executive power. As a reflection of Niger's increasing population, the unicameral National Assembly was expanded in 2004 to 113 deputies elected for a 5-year term under a majority system of representation. Political parties must attain at least 5% of the vote in order to gain a seat in the legislature.

Executive branch[edit]

Main article: President of Niger
Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President Mahamadou Issoufou Party for Democracy and Socialism 7 April 2011
Prime Minister Brigi Rafini Party for Democracy and Socialism 7 April 2011

Niger's new constitution restores the semi-presidential system of government of the December 1992 constitution (Third Republic) in which the President of the Republic is elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term, and a prime minister, named by the president, share executive power.

Legislative branch[edit]

The National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) has 113 members, elected for a five-year term, 105 members elected in multi-seat constituencies and 8 members elected in single-seat national minority constituencies. Political parties must attain at least 5% of the vote in order to gain a seat in the legislature.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jibrin Ibrahim and Abdoulayi Niandou Souley, "The rise to power of an opposition party: the MNSD in Niger Republic", Unisa Press, Politeia, Vol. 15, No. 3, 1996.
  2. ^ Myriam Gervais, "Niger: Regime Change, Economic Crisis, and Perpetuation of Privilege", in Political Reform in Francophone Africa (1997), ed. John F. Clark and David E. Gardinier, pages 100–101.
  3. ^ a b "RAPPORT DE LA MISSION D’OBSERVATION DES ELECTIONS PRESIDENTIELLES ET LEGISLATIVES DES 17 OCTOBRE ET 24 NOVEMBRE 1999", democratie.francophonie.org (French).
  4. ^ "L’ANDP de Djermakoye rallie la mouvance présidentielle", Afrique Express, No. 253, 30 July 2002 (French).
  5. ^ List of governments of Niger, izf.net (French).
  6. ^ Parliamentary groups in the National Assembly, National Assembly web site (2001 archive page) (French).
  7. ^ Niger's ruling party faces crisis. AFP 04/07/2008
  8. ^ Le Président Tandja reste muet sur les appels en faveur d’une prolongation de son mandat. APA 19 December 2008
  9. ^ Niger Plans Election by December, Prime Minister Says. Abdoulaye Ibbo Daddy, Bloomberg news. 22 January 2009.
  10. ^ Niger : « Je suis prêt à partir à la fin de mon mandat », affirme le Président nigérien. APA 28 Mars 2009 11:34
    « je ne cherche pas un autre mandat. Donc je suis très clair là-dessus, je n’ai demandé à aucun nigérien si on peut faire ceci ou cela. Jamais, et je n’ai jamais demandé quoi que ce soit pour changer la constitution nigérienne ou à y chercher des modifications »
  11. ^ Le président de la République Mamadou Tandja: «Le peuple demande que je reste, je ne peux pas rester insensible à son appel.». LE TEMOIN 04 - 8 May 2009.
  12. ^ Chronogramme Tazartché: Bonus de 3 ans pour Tandja, Elections locales et législatives en 2009, Elections présidentielles (auxquelles Tandja pouvait participer) en 2012. LE TEMOIN du 11 au 15 mai 2009
  13. ^ ANNONCE DU RÉFÉRENDUM Le planning du Tazartché. Oumarou Keïta. Republicain-Niger. 15 May 2009.
  14. ^ RÉFÉRENDUM CONSTITUTIONNEL Une présidence à vie s'annonce ! Oumarou Keïta. Republicain-Niger. 15 May 2009.
  15. ^ ALa Cedeao contre la réforme constitutionnelle prévue au Niger . Deutsche Welle. 15 May 2009.
  16. ^ Remaniement gouvernemental au Niger, nouveau ministre de la Justice. AFP 15 May 2009
  17. ^ Niger court says third-term referendum unlawful. Reuters. 26 May 2009
  18. ^ La Cour constitutionnelle du Niger s’oppose au projet de changement de constitution APA News. 25 May 2009.
  19. ^ Le principal parti allié de Tandja contre son projet de référendum. AFP 15 May 2009.
  20. ^ Declaration du Bureau Politique CDS Rahama sur le schéma « Tazartché » proposé au président de la république. Bureau Politique CDS-Rahama. 15 May 2009.
  21. ^ Ousmane et Djermokoye espèrent toujours l’ouverture des négociations avec Tandja . LE TEMOIN du 11 au 15 mai 200
  22. ^ Niger's Tandja dissolves parliament. Reuters. 26 May 2009
  23. ^ Matthew Søberg Shugart. Semi-Presidential Systems: Dual Executive and Mixed Authority Patterns. School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. University of California, San Diego (September 2005).
  24. ^ http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2010/02/201021812457200576.html.
  • Niger: Description of Electoral System. ACE Electoral Knowledge Network, United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) Democratic Governance Thematic Trust Fund (DGTTF). 1998-2009.
  • Niger: Comparative Electoral Data. ACE Electoral Knowledge Network, United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) Democratic Governance Thematic Trust Fund (DGTTF). 1998-2009.