INTRODUCTION: Niger has been celebrating the third anniversary of the coup which brought the regime of President Seyni Kountche to power on 15 April, 1974.
INTRODUCTION: Niger has been celebrating the third anniversary of the coup which brought the regime of President Seyni Kountche to power on 15 April, 1974. The highlight of the nation-wide celebrations was a big military and civilian parade in the capital, Niamey, reviewed by the President.
SYNOPSIS: Lieutenant-Colonel Kountche came to power in a brief and relatively bloodless coup. He overthrew the regime of President Hamani Diori, who led the country to independence from France in 1960. Despite much internal opposition to his rule, President Diori had remained in power for thirteen years by adopting a pro-French policy, and receiving considerable financial, technical and military assistance from his former masters.
But in 1974, following two years of increased dissention due to the harsh effects of the Sahel drought, the army revolted against Diori. Colonel Kountche led the coup as the Armed Forces Chief of Staff, and became head of state after a brief battle in which some 100 people died. President Diori was imprisoned, and the head of the French military mission was expelled, together with all French forces stationed in Niger.
The band of the elite Republican Guard led the march past the Presidential reviewing stand; with its goat mascot in the fore.
In a broadcast to the nation during the day, President Kountche said the past three years had been ones of rehabilitation of an economy for the people. He said the coup which brought him to power would not have been possible without the support of the people, and it was for them that he and his government were working.
A contingent of the National Women's Association led the civilian units in the parade, which was followed by a diplomatic reception that night in the presidential palace.