Mamadou Tandja

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Mamadou Tandja
Tandja in Nigeria June 2007.jpg
President of Niger
In office
22 December 1999 – 18 February 2010
Prime Minister Ibrahim Hassane Mayaki
Hama Amadou
Seyni Oumarou
Albadé Abouba (Acting)
Ali Badjo Gamatié
Preceded by Daouda Malam Wanké
Succeeded by Salou Djibo (President of the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy)
Personal details
Born 1938 (age 75–76)
Maïné-Soroa, French West Africa (now Niger)
Political party National Movement for the Development of Society
Spouse(s) Laraba Tandja

Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Mamadou Tandja (born 1938[1]) is a Nigerien politician who was President of Niger from 1999 to 2010. He was President of the National Movement of the Development Society (MNSD) from 1991 to 1999 and unsuccessfully ran as the MNSD's presidential candidate in 1993 and 1996 before being elected to his first term in 1999. While serving as President of Niger, he was also Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States from 2005 to 2007.

Tandja is of mixed Fula and Kanuri ancestry.[2] He was the first President of Niger who is not ethnically Hausa or Djerma.[3]

Following a constitutional crisis in 2009, which was caused by Tandja's efforts to remain in office beyond the originally scheduled end of his term, he was ousted by the military in a coup d'etat in February 2010.

1974 coup, the Kountché regime and the MNSD[edit]

Tandja was born in Maïné-Soroa, Niger.[1] He participated in the 1974 coup that brought Seyni Kountché to power[4][5][6] and became a member of the Supreme Military Council. He became Prefect of Maradi in 1976[6] before being appointed to the government as Minister of the Interior on September 10, 1979; he remained in the latter position until being replaced by Kountché himself on August 31, 1981.[7][8] He was then Prefect of Tahoua from 1981 to March 1988, Ambassador to Nigeria from June 1988 to March 1990 and Minister of the Interior again from March 1990 to March 1991.[6]

In 1991, Tandja emerged as the head of one of two powerful factions in the ruling National Movement of the Development Society (Mouvement National pour la Societé de Développement, MNSD) and at a party congress held in November 1991, he was elected as MNSD President.[9] Tandja's obtaining of the party leadership over rival faction leader Moumouni Adamou Djermakoye marked a departure from the traditional dominance of the party by Djermakoye's Zarma (Djerma) ethnic group.[9][10]

1993 election and subsequent events[edit]

Tandja ran for President in the elections of 1993, taking first place in the first round in February with 34.22% of the vote, but then losing to Mahamane Ousmane in the second round in March, taking 45.58% of the vote.[11] Tandja accepted the results and congratulated Ousmane.[10]

Tandja participated in an opposition protest against the government of the Alliance of the Forces of Change ruling coalition on April 16, 1994 and was arrested along with 90 others.[10] Ousmane was overthrown in a military coup led by Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara on January 27, 1996.

1996 election[edit]

Under Maïnassara, a new presidential election was held on July 7–8, 1996, in which Tandja ran again; this time he took third place with 15.65% of the vote, behind Maïnassara with about 52% and Ousmane with about 20%, according to official results.[11] On the second day of polling he was placed under house arrest along with the other three opposition candidates and held for two weeks.[12] Following a pro-democracy demonstration on 11 January 1997, Tandja was arrested along with Ousmane and former Prime Minister Mahamadou Issoufou and held until 23 January.[13]

1999 election and first term[edit]

Tandja visiting President of the United States George W. Bush at the Oval Office in Washington, D.C., June 2005.

In April 1999, Maïnassara was assassinated and a new military government led by Major Daouda Malam Wanké took over. This junta promised a return to democracy within the year, and the elections were held in October and November. Tandja won the presidential election, receiving first place, with 32% of the vote, in the first round, and 59.89% in the second round, defeating Issoufou.[11][14] Tandja received the backing of Ousmane in the second round.[14] The MNSD also won the most seats in the parliamentary election in November 1999[11] and Tandja himself was elected to the National Assembly as an MNSD candidate from Diffa constituency, although due to his concurrent election as President his seat was filled by his substitute, Nassourou Samaila.[15] He took office as President on December 22, 1999.[11] He appointed Hama Amadou as Prime Minister in January 2000.[16]

Niger was heavily in debt and was not receiving any foreign aid due to the 1996 coup and subsequent suspension of democratic institutions. Tandja focused on economic development, negotiating with the civil service unions and with foreign donors. Many did not approve of Tandja's measures in reducing government spending. In 2001, students at the University of Niamey staged violent protests against the reduction of their government grants. On July 31, 2002, some soldiers in Diffa started a mutiny demanding pay and improved living conditions; this briefly spread to Niamey a few days later.[17][18] Loyalists defeated the mutineers and restored peace by August 9, but Tandja came under political fire for his decrees blocking communication about the rebellion.[19][20]

2004 election and second term[edit]

Tandja was a candidate for re-election in the 2004 presidential election. In the first round of the election, held on November 16, he took first place with 40.7% of the vote, the rest being divided between five opponents.[11] As in 1999, Mahamadou Issoufou took second place, and he participated in a runoff with Tandja on December 4. Tandja was re-elected in the second round with 65.53% of the vote, with Issoufou receiving the remaining 34.47%.[11][21] All four of the defeated first round candidates supported Tandja in the second round.[22][23] He was sworn in for his second term on December 21 at a ceremony at the Général Seyni Kountché Stadium in Niamey, which was attended by six other African presidents.[24]

Although there had been speculation about a possible constitutional change to enable Tandja to run again in 2009, he said in an interview with Le Monde, published on October 6, 2007, that he intended to step down at the end of his second term.[25] However, on December 21, 2008, a large rally was held in front of the National Assembly building in Niamey calling for an extension of Tandja's term by three years, so that it would end on December 22, 2012. According to supporters of this proposal—which also called for extending the mandates of the National Assembly and other institutions—a three-year extension would be beneficial to the course of Niger's development. Prime Minister Seyni Oumarou was among those taking part in the rally.[26] The opposition furiously denounced this proposal, and a large demonstration opposing the proposal was held in Niamey a few days later.[27] On December 30, 20 non-governmental organizations and unions, including the Democratic Confederation of Workers of Niger (CDTN), formed the United Front for the Safeguarding of Democratic Gains (FUSAD) in opposition to the extension proposal, and they called on Tandja—who had up to that point expressed no opinion on the matter in public—to speak out against the proposal.[28]

The relationship with the French nuclear power company Areva, which had enjoyed a de facto four decade monopoly in the country, worsened under Tandja as he sought to curb the power of French influence by striking a deal with Sino-U in 2007 to develop a uranium mine, resulting in competition for Areva.[29]

2009 constitutional crisis[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, Tazartché: 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.[30] The 1999 constitution not only limited the president to two terms (article 36), but explicitly barred amending this provision by any means (article 136). Prime Minister Seyni Oumarou reiterated on 22 January that all scheduled elections would go ahead before the end of 2009.[31] In March, during his meetings with French President Sarkozy, Tandja explicitly stated that he would not seek a third term.[32]

Then, in early May 2009, when questioned by the press on his visit to Agadez to begin peace talks with Tuareg rebels, Tandja announced he would seek a third term, saying. "The people have demanded I remain; I cannot ignore their call."[33] 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.[34][35][36][37]

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.[38]

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 not only be unconstitutional, but would violate the oath Tandja had sworn on the Qur'an (a serious matter in this overwhelmingly Muslim country).[39][40] 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 Moumouni Adamou Djermakoye, 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.[41][42] Neither party moved into the opposition, and both Ousmane and Djermokoye said they were willing to negotiate with the president.[43]

On 26 May, within hours of the Constitutional Court's statement, official media read out a statement that Tandja had dissolved the National Assembly.[44] Under the 1999 Constitution he is allowed to do this once every two years,[45] but he must call parliamentary elections within 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 could have been held no later than December, assuming the 1999 constitution was in effect.

Following a ruling by the Constitutional Court, this time binding, that the referendum could not go ahead, the President released a statement on 21 June saying he would forgo the referendum, at least for the near future. But on 24 June he released a further statement, demanding the court reverse its ruling. This was immediately (the 25th) followed by a previously postponed one day general strike by seven labor confederations, and the abandonment of his government by the CDS-Rahama party of Mahamane Ousmane.[46]

On 27 June, President Tandja announced he was suspending the government and would rule by decree.[47] On 27 June, the leader of the main opposition party, Mahamadou Issoufou, denounced what he called a coup, and called on Nigeriens to resist by all legal means, citing Article 13 of the 1999 Constitution which mandates officials to ignore "manifestly illegal orders".[48]

February 2010 coup[edit]

On 18 February 2010, during a government meeting at the presidential palace, rebel soldiers attacked and deposed Tandja in a coup d'état, establishing a military junta called the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (CSRD). Tandja was believed to be held at a military barracks on the outskirts of Niamey.[49][50]

The junta kept Tandja in detention while it organized a political transition. He was held under house arrest and then moved to a prison in January 2011. Tandja's mother, having reached a very advanced age, died in March 2011.[51]

The junta held elections in 2011, which were won by Issoufou, who led the opposition to Tandja during the 10 years of the latter's presidency. The transition ended with Issoufou taking office in April 2011. A month later, the Niamey Court of Appeal threw out all of the legal charges against Tandja, and he was released on 10 May 2011. MNSD officials, including party leader Seyni Oumarou, promptly went to his home to greet and congratulate him, but was not immediately clear whether he planned to return to active politics.[51]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b Meyers Lexikon Online, accessed May 20, 2007.
  2. ^ Decalo, Samuel (1997). Historical Dictionary of the Niger (3rd ed.). Boston & Folkestone: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-3136-8. :pp.299–300
  3. ^ Country Reports on Human Rights Practices — 2003: Niger, U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 25, 2004.
  4. ^ "Tandja wins second term as president in historic first for country", IRIN, December 8, 2004.
  5. ^ Idy Barou, "Niger's leader - haunted by hunger", BBC News, August 15, 2005.
  6. ^ a b c "M. Tandja Mamadou, le nouveau président du Niger", Afrique Express, No. 197, November 28, 1999 (French).
  7. ^ "Oct 1979 - Government Reorganization", Keesing's Record of World Events, Volume 25, October, 1979 Niger, Page 29884.
  8. ^ "Mar 1982 - Government Changes - Other Internal and External Developments", Keesing's Record of World Events, Volume 28, March, 1982 Niger, Page 31404.
  9. ^ a b 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 100–102.
  10. ^ a b c 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.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Elections in Niger, African Elections Database.
  12. ^ "Niger: A major step backwards", October 16, 1996.
  13. ^ "Harassment of Government Opponents has Become Systematic", Amnesty International (UNHCR.org), May 1, 1997.
  14. ^ a b "RAPPORT DE LA MISSION D’OBSERVATION DES ELECTIONS PRESIDENTIELLES ET LEGISLATIVES DES 17 OCTOBRE ET 24 NOVEMBRE 1999", democratie.francophonie.org (French).
  15. ^ List of deputies elected in the 1999 parliamentary election by constituency at the Wayback Machine (archived July 18, 2004), National Assembly website (2004 archive) (French).
  16. ^ Niger: Country Report on Human Rights Practices, 2000, U.S. Department of State, February 23, 2001.
  17. ^ "Mutineers detain prefect, mayor and other dignitaries", IRIN, August 1, 2002.
  18. ^ Troops put down Niger mutiny", BBC.co.uk, August 9, 2002.
  19. ^ "Security measures relaxed in Diffa", IRIN, September 23, 2002.
  20. ^ "State of alert threatens independent media - RSF", IRIN, August 7, 2002.
  21. ^ "RAPPORT DE LA MISSION D’OBSERVATION DES ELECTIONS PRESIDENTIELLES ET LEGISLATIVES DES 16 NOVEMBRE ET 4 DECEMBRE 2004", democratie.francophonie.org (French).
  22. ^ "Incumbent wins Niger presidential poll", afrol News, December 8, 2004.
  23. ^ "Présidentielle au Niger: un quatrième parti, le RDP, soutient la candidature de Mamadou Tandja au second tour", Xinhua, November 23, 2004 (French).
  24. ^ "Mamadou Tandja investi en présence de six chefs d'Etats africains", AFP (Jeuneafrique.com), December 21, 2004 (French).
  25. ^ "Le président Tandja s'engage à quitter le pouvoir en 2009", Panapress (Afriquenligne.fr), October 6, 2007 (French).
  26. ^ "Nigerien mass rally calls for extension of presidential mandate", Xinhua, December 22, 2008.
  27. ^ "Thousands protest in Niger against extension of Tandja's rule", AFP, December 27, 2008.
  28. ^ "Niger: création d'un front contre la prolongation du mandat du président Tandja", AFP, December 30, 2008 (French).
  29. ^ Burgis, Tom (June 14, 2010). "Uranium: Coup alters the balance as nations jostle for position". The Financial Times. 
  30. ^ Le Président Tandja reste muet sur les appels en faveur d’une prolongation de son mandat. APA 19 December 2008
  31. ^ Niger Plans Election by December, Prime Minister Says. Abdoulaye Ibbo Daddy, Bloomberg news. 22 January 2009.
  32. ^ 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 »
  33. ^ 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 - 08 May 2009.
  34. ^ 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
  35. ^ ANNONCE DU RÉFÉRENDUM Le planning du Tazartché. Oumarou Keïta. Republicain-Niger. 15 May 2009.
  36. ^ RÉFÉRENDUM CONSTITUTIONNEL Une présidence à vie s'annonce ! Oumarou Keïta. Republicain-Niger. 15 May 2009.
  37. ^ ALa Cedeao contre la réforme constitutionnelle prévue au Niger . Deutsche Welle. 15 May 2009.
  38. ^ Remaniement gouvernemental au Niger, nouveau ministre de la Justice. AFP 15 May 2009
  39. ^ Niger court says third-term referendum unlawful. Reuters. May 26, 2009
  40. ^ La Cour constitutionnelle du Niger s’oppose au projet de changement de constitution APA News. 25 May 2009.
  41. ^ Le principal parti allié de Tandja contre son projet de référendum. AFP 15 May 2009.
  42. ^ Declaration du Bureau Politique CDS Rahama sur le schéma « Tazartché » proposé au président de la république. Bureau Politique CDS-Rahama. 15 May 2009.
  43. ^ Ousmane et Djermokoye espèrent toujours l’ouverture des négociations avec Tandja . LE TEMOIN du 11 au 15 mai 200
  44. ^ Niger's Tandja dissolves parliament. Reuters. May 26, 2009
  45. ^ 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).
  46. ^ Niger president rules by decree after court snub. Reuters. Fri Jun 26, 2009
  47. ^ Emergency powers for Niger leader. BBC. 26 June 2009.
  48. ^ Niger opposition accuses president of coup. Sat June 27, 2009
  49. ^ Military coup ousts Niger president, BBC News, 18 February 2010.
  50. ^ Niger soldiers go on state TV to confirm coup - Yahoo! News
  51. ^ a b Clarisse Juompan-Yakam, "Niger : la nouvelle vie de Mamadou Tandja", Jeune Afrique, 26 May 2011 (French).
Political offices
Preceded by
Daouda Malam Wanké
President of Niger
1999–2010
Succeeded by
Salou Djibo
as President of the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy of Niger
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John Kufuor
Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States
2005–2007
Succeeded by
Blaise Compaoré