Briefing on Recent Events and Prospects for short and long term stability in Niger.
Brief country overview.
Niger is an extremely poor nation, the perfect example of a ‘classical’ type of a colony. The country has a very undeveloped population. The literacy rates are among the world’s lowest. The birth rates and infant mortality rates are among the highest. The only areas that can interest foreign investors are the mining sector with Uranium being the primary product. There are certain deposits of Gold and oil. Certainly virtually all lucrative industries are owned by foreign companies (mostly French, since Niger used to be a French colony). The government is given up to 30% share maximum in certain industries (certain mines). The government is extremely corrupt and undemocratic. The country’s budget drastically depends on foreign aid and on the proceeds from the exports of uranium and other natural resources. Niger is the country where people still die from starvation. Historically the governments of Niger held on to power as long as possible until removed by a coup-d’etait of the next government which managed to convince the military on its side and organized a round of plebiscite. After getting public support in free elections the governments subsequently refused to believe that the people could change their opinions and hence oppressed the opposition, persecuted the free press, etc. The most recent coup-d’etait took place only a few weeks ago when the military junta overthrew Mamadou Tandja, who just like his predecessors came to power as a result of coup-d’etait and did not want to vacate his place after 2 terms.
Niger depends heavily on the foreign aid and on the export of the raw materials that make up the major part of the country’s budget. The country does not have enough fertile soils for carry out major agricultural programs, therefore, the majority of the population depends heavily on the humanitarian aid and the exports for survival. It is for this reason one can clearly see that just about any government that comes to power in Niger can be easily manipulated from abroad. For instance, if the current government does not comply with the foreign advices, ideas and commands, the sponsors simply cut off sponsorship help to Niger, causing the local population to starve, hence to get aggressive and to overthrow the ruling regime. Surely, the mechanism is more complex than noted above, and to manipulate the Niger’s government the foreign organizations will note that the government steals the money from its people, instead of buying them food, thus causing agitation inside the nation (Bremmer, 208).
It is necessary to note that any government that comes to power in Niger does not really challenge the foreign ownership and control of the major resource fields and bases. What they do at most is open up new fields (like recently opened gold mines) on a “government gets about 25%-30% ownership and the foreigners get the rest” principle.
The population is extremely undeveloped, and uneducated, hence easily manipulated. The majority of people are illiterate; they starve and do not have access to clear water. They do not have proper medicine, legal, or government protection, but guess what? They really want democracy and the right to vote for a certain candidate. Certainly, the population is brainwashed thinking that a democratically selected candidate will definitely be another Obama or Kennedy who makes everyone in the nation happy and provides food for all. The population appears to be convinced that they should adhere to the existing laws (most of which were inherited from the French colonial law) without really questioning their effectiveness and the effect the laws have on the nation’s development and wealth. It is precisely for this reason, the population is so eager to vote in a democratic plebiscite. Since…