Niger’s ruling military junta has sacked the West African country’s eight regional governors all political supporters of the previous regime and replaced them with soldiers.
The move announced last week tightens the junta’s grip on power in the uranium-producing nation after it toppled former president Mamadou Tandja in a spectacular raid in the capital last month, pledging to wipe out corruption and hold elections.
“By decree of the head of state, junta leader Djibo Salou, Colonel Yaye Garba is named governor of the region of Agadez,” a junta spokesman said on state radio, going on to announce the other new governors.
Tandja’s ouster was warmly received by Nigeriens, angered by his constitutional rejig last year which granted him broader powers and extended his rule beyond the end of his second mandate, which expired in December.
Tandja remains under house arrest in a villa in Niamey following the coup, though the junta has released most members of his government.
Despite political turmoil and the presence of bandits, Tuareg insurgents, and al Qaeda cells in the north, Niger has attracted billions of dollars in investments for development of minerals and oil, including from France nuclear giant Areva and China National Petroleum Corp.
The international community is pressuring the junta for a swift transition to civilian rule, and has yet to reverse a series of sanctions imposed on the Tandja government.
However the new military rulers have signalled they will likely pursue a number of high-level corruption cases before making preparations for elections.
Pic: Niger junta leader