In Niger, President Seyni Kountche and other members of the Government attended celebrations last week (3 August) marking the country's nineteenth anniversary of independence.
SV: Cuban Deputy Premier Joel Domenech arriving in Monument Square.
SV: Niger President Seyni Kountche arrives as band plays salute.
SV: Guard of honour presenting arms.
CU: President Kountche taking salute.
SV: President Kountche salutes party and greets military chiefs including Cuban Vice-President.
SV: President Kountche greeting diplomats and military officers. (3 shots)
SV: Officer planting tree PAN TO President and party looking on.
CU: Crowd as Cuban Deputy Premier plants tree. (2 shots)
SV: Officers and others planting tree.
GV: Crowds carrying trees for planting.
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Background: In Niger, President Seyni Kountche and other members of the Government attended celebrations last week (3 August) marking the country's nineteenth anniversary of independence.
SYNOPSIS: Foreign guests invited to the celebrations included Cuban Deputy Premier Joel Domenech. Cuba has recently shown interests in several developing countries in Africa and offered them material aid and advice. President Kountche arrived at Monument Square in the capital Niamey in time to take the salute at the military parade. The present military government came to power in 1974 in an almost bloodless coup, following dissatisfaction with former President Diori Hamani's handling of relief efforts during a seven-year drought. Mr Hamani had been in power since the country gained independence from France in 1960.
The landlocked republic of Niger has been one of the world's poorest countries. In recent years Niger has been benefitting from increased sales of uranium mined from the heart of the Sahara. But great emphasis is still laid by the government on the development of agriculture. Tree-planting has become a traditional feature of independence day celebrations, symbolising Niger's desire to increase growth and to become self-sufficient in primary produce.
President Kountche's rule has been marked by relative political calm, marred only briefly in 1976 by an attempted coup. But periodic famines do not help to bring about stability. The country has undergone dramatic changes -- ten years ago camel-riding Touareg nomads were the only citizens of the Sahara, but now those same tribes can be found driving sixty-ton trucks or working in uranium mines.