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#AfricanLeaders: Niger

Mahamadou Issoufou, is a Nigerien politician who became president of Niger in 2011. During the late 1970s Issoufou studied in France where he attained a degree in mining engineering. He returned to Niger in 1979 to work for the Société des Mines de l’Aïr (SOMAÏR), a French-controlled mining company. In 1990 he helped found the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (Parti Nigérien pour la Démocratie et le Socialisme–Tarayya; PNDS), and two years later he left SOMAÏR to pursue politics full-time.

In 1993 Niger held its first multiparty elections and Mahamadou Issoufou ran unsuccessfully for the presidency. However, from April 1993 to September 1994 he served as Prime Minister under the newly elected President Mahamane Ousmane until the PNDS withdrew from the ruling coalition. Issoufou continued pursuing his political aspirations by waging three more unsuccessful presidential campaigns in 1996, 1999, and 2004.[1]

As a veteran politician and leader of the PNDS since 1990, he finally won an election in 2011. After he entered the executive office, Issoufou vowed to maintain peace agreements signed with Tuareg rebels in northern Niger. Immediately after his inauguration, he appointed a Tuareg – Brigi Rafini – as his Prime Minister. Four years later Issoufou faces a number of developmental issues in the politics and security of Niger. His most pressing concern has been the creation of the opposition Patriotic and Republican Front (FPR). Established in August 2015, the FPR is a coalition of 30 parties, civil society groups and labour unions including former parliamentary speaker Hama Amadou – a former ally of Issoufou.

Arguably the 2015 presidential election in Nigeria where Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) successfully unseated incumbent Good Luck Jonathan – by means of a coalition – paved way for a trend across the sub-region and the rest of the continent. Opposition parties are now more willing to merge and challenge executive power in a peaceful, yet effective manner. Apart from increased opposition Issoufou’s bid for the presidency has also been challenged by security issues. The Boko Haram crisis in Nigeria has had an immense impact on Niger as more than 150,000 displaced people have fled to the south-eastern Diffa region.[2] The economic impact has also proven severe; in 2015 the country had to substantially increase its budget spending to resource its efforts in combating the Islamist insurgency.[3] Meanwhile Niger, a vast, arid state heavily dependent on uranium, has more than 3.5 million people affected by food insecurity; 2.5 million of which are children.[4]

Table 1[5]

Independence year 3 August 1960
President Mahamadou Issoufou
Government Republic
Capital City Niamey
GDP (2013) $ 7.407 billion
Population (2015)  16.6 million
Religion Islam, indigenous beliefs
Major Languages  French (official), Hausa, Songhai, Arabic
Currency CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc
Life Expectancy  5 years (men), 56 years (women)


[1]Niger 2016: Short Note President Mohamadou Issoufou faces mounting opposition ahead of 2016 Elections. Available at: [Accessed: 1 August 2016].

[2] ibid

[3] Reuters News. 2015 ‘Niger increases budget on Boko Haram, 2016 elections – govt’. Available at: (Accessed on: 2 August 2016)

[4] n1

[5]  BBC News. 2016. ‘Niger country profile’. Available at:

(Accessed on: 2 August 2016).