Niger junta says will hand over power by February 2011


Niger will complete its transition from military to civilian rule by February 2011, the junta that rules West African uranium-exporting country said.

Last month, a coalition of political and business representatives said the military-led transitional government should hand over power to civilians within that timeframe.
“The CSRD (junta), after seriously analysing the situation in the country, has decided to accept the proposition made by the consultative council and fix the duration of the transition at 12 months from February 18, 2010,” a junta spokesman said on national television, without naming a date for elections.

The CSRD ousted President Mamadou Tandja on February 18, later promising to clean up politics before scheduling a vote.

The international community is keen to see a return to democratic rule in the country, which has drawn billions of dollars worth in oil and mining investment, from France’s Areva and China National Petroleum Corp among others, and where al Qaeda cells operate.

But Western powers have been reluctant to condemn forcefully the overthrow of Tandja, who orchestrated a constitutional rejig in 2009 intended to extend his time in office and broaden his powers.

Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, faces a severe food shortage this year, according to United Nations humanitarian agencies.