The area of what is now the Republic of Niger was probably settled in the Paleolithic Age. From the time of the European Middle Ages, there were several large empires and city-states (Songhai Empire on the Niger River, Kanuri in the southeast of the country, city-states of the Haussa). The cities that lay along the route of the camel caravans through the Sahara to the Mediterranean or east to the Red Sea became extremely wealthy due to the lively trade in gold, salt and slaves. From the 11th century, members of the Berber tribe of the Tuareg immigrated to the north of today’s Niger and sold the Haussa resident there. The center of the nomadic Tuareg was the Aïr Mountains and the city of Agadaz, also the base of the caravan trade.
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In the course of the 19th century, several European researchers came to the area (eg Mungo Park, Dixon Denham, Heinrich Barth). At the so-called “Africa Conference” in 1885, the European colonial powers divided the African continent regardless of existing borders or ethnic groups. The area between Lake Chad, Niger and the Aïr Mountains was awarded to France. After conquering neighboring Mali, French troops occupied the state territory of what is now the Republic of Niger within a few years against the bitter resistance of the local ethnic groups. Even after the occupation of the country, the conflicts, for example between the Songhai in the southwest and the colonial rulers, continued.
In 1911 the area was administered as a province “Upper Senegal and Niger” part of French West Africa and from Dakar, today’s capital of Senegal. In 1922, France declared the area an independent colony with the city of Zinder in the south as the administrative seat (from 1926 Niamey).
According to AbbreviationFinder, independence movements began to form in the first half of the 20th century. After the end of the Second World War, the “Parti Progressiste Nig¨¦rien” (Progressive Party of Niger, PPN) was founded in 1946 as the first major political organization. The second relevant party was the UDN (Union of Niger).
In 1957, France granted the country internal autonomy. In the first elections, the UDN prevailed under Djibo Bakary, who became Niger’s first head of government. Contrary to the government’s goal of immediately achieving independence, the majority of the population called for the country to remain within the French Union through a referendum, a goal that the Niger Progressive Party, PPN, also pursued. His leader Hamani Diori replaced Bakari at the end of 1958 as head of government of the country.
In August 1960 the Niger became an independent republic within the “Communaut¨¦ Française”. The PPN has been declared a unitary party. France remained present in the country in the form of political advisers and as a military power. The authoritarian head of government Diori (until 1974) was accused of corruption and mismanagement.
A two-year drought in the Sahel region (1973) destroyed almost all of the livestock and thus the livelihood of the nomadic population living there. The already economically weak country was dependent on foreign food aid. There was unrest in the country when the extensive donations in kind that came from all over the world partially disappeared or were sold on the black market at inflated prices. In 1974 the Diori regime was overthrown by a military coup, which was supported by large sections of the population. Lieutenant Colonel Seyni Kountch¨¦ took over the leadership of the state (until 1987) at the head of a Supreme Military Council (“Conseil Militaire Supr¨ºme” / CMS). He overruled the country’s constitution and declared the fight against corruption and the improvement of food supplies to be the main objectives of his policy.
The Nigerian leadership was able to improve the country’s economic situation slightly in 1975 by forcing shares in the uranium ore production, which until then had only been in the hands of a French mining company. Due to tensions with the neighboring country of Chad (Libyan troops invaded there in 1981), Niger lost its previously most important uranium buyer with Libya only a few years later.
Another drought in the Sahel region in the 1980s led to a wave of refugees in the south of the country and a further deterioration in living conditions.
In 1987 General Ali Saïbou became the new head of state of the Republic of Niger after the death of Seyni Kountch¨¦ (until 1993). He initiated democratic reforms and commissioned the drafting of a new constitution. The recently founded “Mouvement National de la Societ¨¦ de D¨¦voloppement” (MNSD) has been declared a unitary party of the Republic of Niger.
In the early 1990s, there were ongoing clashes between the “Tuareg Liberation Front of Aïr and Azawad” (FLAA) and government forces. The Tuareg were particularly affected by the ongoing drought and had called for increased aid measures for the affected areas and people. Some called for an autonomous area in the north of the republic. It was only after numerous armed confrontations that a peace treaty was signed between the Tuareg and the Nigerian government in 1995.
A transitional government was formed in 1991 with the independent Amadou Cheiffou at the head. In 1992 a new democratic constitution came into force, which declared Niger to be the presidential parliamentary republic. In the first free parliamentary elections since the military came to power in 1974, the opposition alliance AFC (Alliance des Forces de Changement / Alliance of Forces of the Change). The former MNSD party remained the strongest opposition party in parliament. The Social Democrat Mahamane Ousmane became the new President in March 1993. He appointed PNDS leader Mahamdou Issoufou as the new head of government of the Republic of Niger.
In new elections in January 1995 (the government coalition between CDS and PNDS was broken), the MNSD won the majority of the votes and became the strongest parliamentary group with 29 out of a total of 83 seats (CDS 23, PNDS 12, other 19). Hama Amadou has been appointed as the new head of government by the MNSD.
A year later, in January 1996, there was another military coup d’¨¦tat after internal power struggles led to the government’s inability to act. The constitution was abolished and the political parties banned. Colonel Ibrahim Barr¨¦ Maïnasara declared himself president of a “National Healing Council” (Conseil de Salut National / CNS). This promised new elections in the same year. A constitutional amendment in May 1996 granted the president far more powers than before, while political parties were re-admitted.
The parliamentary and presidential elections held in 1996 were boycotted by the opposition or accused of manipulating the elections. President Maïnasara and his close UNIRD (Union Nationale des Ind¨¦pendants pour le Renouveau D¨¦mocratique) won the elections with superiority. In April 1999, President Maïnasara was murdered, and Daouda Malam Wank¨¦, the leader of the Presidential Guard, became the new president. In the November 1999 presidential election, MNSD candidate Mamadou Tandja was elected with almost 60% of the vote. The MNSD was also the strongest party in parliamentary elections. Hama Amadou became the country’s new head of government at the head of a coalition of MNSD and CDS. The 2004 elections confirmed Tandja and Amadou.
In 2007, Prime Minister Hama Amadou’s government was overthrown by an opposition vote of no confidence. The government was accused of being involved in a corruption affair in which international aid funds provided for educational projects were misappropriated. Seyni Oumarou (MNSD) took office as head of government, the government coalition remained.
Since the 1995 peace agreement had never been implemented, the Tuareg rebel organization MNJ (Mouvement des Nig¨¦riens pour la Justice) resumed armed struggle against the government in February 2007, and President Mamadou Tandja refused to negotiate. In August the conflict spread to neighboring Mali.
The Constitution of the 6th Republic entered into force in August 2009, extending President Tandja’s term in office, in breach of the 1999 constitution. During a coup in February 2010, Tandja was ousted by a military junta. A “Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy” (CSRD) took power. The constitution was overridden and a new one came into force in 2010. The parliamentary and presidential elections at the end of January 2011 brought a change of power: the previous opposition party PNDS won the majority of seats in the National Assembly and its leader Mahamadou Issoufou won the presidential election. He was sworn in in April 2011.