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Enabling Environments for Civic Movements and the Dynamics of Democratic Transition - Niger

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 10 July 2008
Cite as Freedom House, Enabling Environments for Civic Movements and the Dynamics of Democratic Transition - Niger, 10 July 2008, available at: [accessed 27 November 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Period of democratic transition: 1999
Pro-democracy civic movement: present

After gaining independence from France in 1960, Niger was governed for 30 years by alternating one-party and military regimes. After a brief period of transient democratic rule under Mahamane Ousmane in the early 1990s, General Ibrahim Bare Mainassara seized power in 1996 in a military coup, won a fraudulent election staged that same year, and ran an increasingly repressive state.

The government opened into negotiations with the opposition in January 1997, but very little was achieved that year as Mainassara refused demands for the dissolution of the National Assembly. That same month, the opposition coalition, Front pour la Restauration et la Defense de la Democratie, organized a number of demonstrations in the capital that were violently dispersed by security forces. In the days following these demonstrations, security forces arrested more than 100 opposition supporters. In 1998, Mainassara's rule was shaken by brief army mutinies, strikes by unpaid teachers and civil servants, defections of his own supporters, and opposition demonstrations staged in Maradi and Zinder in April. In retaliation, the police formally banned demonstrations that same month. In April 1999, Mainassara was assassinated by members of his presidential guard. The commander of the presidential guard was appointed head of a transitional government to oversee the drafting of the constitution and democratic elections. Elections were held in November 1999 and were hailed as free and fair by international observers. Mamadou Tandja, a former army officer, won the presidency in the second round of polling, defeating former president Mahamane Ousmane with about 60 percent of the vote.

In 2004, Tandja retained the presidency in elections also considered to be free and fair. His victory was largely credited to widespread support for his efforts to return Niger to relative economic and political stability after years of turbulence.

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