Elections in 2011 brought the Social Democratic Party’s Mahamadou Issoufou to the Presidency, ending yet another period of military rule, following the ousting of his predecessor in a coup in 2010. The 1999 constitution is still in place, but uncertainly, as it was his attempt to rule beyond his constitutional powers that led the army to remove President Tandja. Uncertainly, too, because, shortly after his election, five senior members of the military were arrested for plotting his assassination as a prelude to seizing power themselves. Oh, and Niger is the only country in Africa where slavery is still in place, despite its official abolition in 2003. And now there is Ebola and there is al-Qaida. As Mistah Kurtz quite rightly said. “The horror! The horror!”
But there is some brightness too amidst all this darkness. Niger has discovered oil, and it has huge amounts of uranium as well as other minerals, so watch this space to see whether the Americans or the Chinese are the first to turn up with false promises of humanitarian aid.
Marks for: I cannot bring myself to give a country that is in such a parlous state zero; yet zero it has to be
Marks against: 无限, which I am told is written phonetically as Wúxiàn, and pronounced Wu-zi-an, and is the Chinese equivalent of the symbol I have been using to separate countries throughout this book (and yes, I am presuming that economic conquest will be by the Chinese, not the Americans).
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