Intended Audience: Students of African politics

***Open book study: 1 hour. Please see questions at end of the page.
You are welcome to supplement your reading with material outside of the text book.

What recently happened in Niger and what are the consequences:
The reverberations of a “soft coup” which occurred in the uranium rich nation of Niger are just about reaching their intended destination, those now in positions of power throughout Africa and those who aspire for leadership there, and yet it is hardly believable that coup d’états are still en vogue in Africa.

On Thursday February 18, “President Mamadou Tandja was deposed and the government dissolved,” according to reports from the BBC. Reports hold that the president is safe, while being help in the service quarters of the presidency.

Soft, lackluster condemnation or lack thereof, about the use of force, undemocratic means to remove a legitimate government from power is what remains in question in the Niger imbroglio.

“The U.S. said it believed the coup had been triggered by Mr. Tandja’s actions last August, when he held a controversial referendum to abolish limits on presidential terms of office,” according to reports from the BBC

Constitution, elections, what caused the coup?
For all who are tuned in to the developments in Niger and the resultant reaction from other world leaders and organizations, the crisis has brought to the fore many more questions about governance in African nations.

Questions?
1. Should President Mamadou Tandja have known that his own military could step in if he tried to stay in office longer that the constitution mandated?
2. Could fears of the military stepping in have prevented the actions of the president in helping modify Niger’s constitution in 2009?
3. Which African nation(s) are in a similar position that Niger found itself prior to the military taking measures of their own.
4. Under what circumstances should citizens of a nation not condemn a military coup for what it is, a coup, the forceful removal of an elected president and government?
5. Who benefits from the Niger coup; the citizens of Niger, the military or the opposition parties?
6. Are military coups inevitable, predictable or stoppable in some African nations?
7. Under what conditions can better democracy flourish in many African nations

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