Multiparty Elections and Tribal Disputes
In 1993, the country's first multiparty election
resulted in the presidency of Ousmane Mahamane, who was then deposed in a
Jan. 1996 coup. In July, the military leader of the coup, Ibrahim
Baré Maïnassara, was declared president in a rigged election.
Considered a corrupt and ineffectual president, Maïnassara was
assassinated in April 1999 by his own guards. The National Reconciliation
Council, responsible for the coup, kept its promise and held democratic
elections; in Nov. 1999, Tandja Mamadou was elected president. As a
result, foreign aid, primarily from France, was restored.
The nomadic Tuaregs, of Berber and Arab descent,
have a fiercely insular culture and share little affinity with the black
African majority of Niger. Conflict between the Tuaregs and the other
tribes of Niger first surfaced in the early 20th century. Cease-fires
between the government and various Tuareg rebel groups went into effect in
1995 and 1997. The impoverished Tuaregs have received little of the
economic aid they were promised, which is not surprising given Niger's
political instability and desperate poverty.
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