1974 Nigerien coup d'état

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The 1974 Nigerien coup d'état was a largely bloodless military insurrection which overthrew the first postcolonial government of Niger. The government that followed, while plagued by coup attempts of its own, survived until 1991.

On 15 April 1974, Lieutenant-Colonel Seyni Kountché led a military coup that ended the fourteen-year rule of Niger's first President, Hamani Diori. Diori was imprisoned until 1980 and remained under house arrest. The military coup began at 1 AM on the morning of 15 April, with all but a handful of units quickly declaring for the coup leaders. The personal guard of President Hamani Diori, the all-Tuareg Guarde Republicain was the only unit to resist, under the orders of Diori's wife Senia. She and an unknown number of Guardsmen were killed at the presidential palace after dawn on 15 April.[1]

The Sahel drought of 1968-1972 had aggravated existing tensions in the single party government of the ruling PPN. Widespread civil disorder followed allegations that some government ministers were misappropriating stocks of food aid and accused Diori of consolidating power. Diori limited cabinet appointments to fellow Djerma, family members, and close friends. In addition, he acquired new powers by declaring himself the minister of foreign and defense affairs.[2]

Kountché's first official acts were to suspend the Constitution, dissolve the National Assembly, ban all political parties, and release political prisoners. A Supreme Military Council (CMS) was established on 17 April 1974 with Kountché as president. Its stated mandate was to distribute food aid fairly and to restore morality to public life. A consultative National Council for Development (CND) replaced the National Assembly. Although political parties were outlawed, opposition activists who were exiled during Diori's regime were allowed to return to Niger.

While a period of relative prosperity, the military government of the period allowed little free expression and engaged in arbitrary imprisonment and killing. The first presidential elections took place in 1993 (33 years after independence), and the first municipal elections only took place in 2007.[3]


  1. ^ Decalo (1997) pp. 102-3
  2. ^ for details on this section, see Finn Fuglestad (1983) who describes the process of party formation and political horse-trading in the 1950s in great detail
  3. ^ For a detailed account in English of the inner workings of the military regime, see Samuel Decalo (1990), pp.241-285.
  • Samuel Decalo. Coups and Army Rule in Africa. Yale University Press (1990). ISBN 0-300-04045-8
  • Decalo, Samuel (1997). Historical Dictionary of the Niger (3rd ed.). Boston & Folkestone: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-3136-8. :102–103
  • Adamou Moummouni Djermakoye. 15 avril 1974 : mémoires d'un compagon de Seyni Kountché. Tome I, Servitudes militaires. PREFACE De Tandja Mamadou. Editions Nathan Adamou (2005) No ISBN
  • Finn Fuglestad. A History of Niger: 1850-1960. Cambridge University Press (1983) ISBN 0-521-25268-7
  • Richard Higgott and Finn Fuglestad. The 1974 Coup d'État in Niger: Towards an Explanation. The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Sep., 1975), pp. 383–398