In Niger, President Seyni Kountche and other members of the government attend celebrations last week marking the country's 18th anniversary of independence.
GV: President of Niger Lieutenant Colonel Seyni Kountche and other officers arriving.
GV AND SV: Kountche and officers take salute. (4 shots)
GV PAN FROM: band TO Kountche walking away.
GV: Kountche shaking hands with officers and officials.
CU: Minister of Rural Development Captain Boulama Manga speaking.
SV: Kountche planting tree. (2 shots)
GV PAN: officials planting trees.
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Background: In Niger, President Seyni Kountche and other members of the government attend celebrations last week marking the country's 18th anniversary of independence.
SYNOPSIS: Lieutenant Colonel Kountche and his ministers arrived at the Sabongari School in the eastern district of Niger's capital Niamey, in time to attend the start of the day's events - - a military parade and arms presentation. The present military government came to power in 1974, after an almost bloodless coup following widespread civil disorder during the Sahel drought. Their objectives were announced as the elimination of corruption and famine.
But although the problems associated with a fickle climate and poor quality agricultural land still remain, recently Niger has been benefitting from vastly increased sales of uranium -- mined from the heart of the Sahara desert. Last year some 63 million U.S. dollars poured into the state coffers form uranium sales.
But despite this, great emphasis is still laid by the government on the development of agriculture. Rural Development Minister Captain Boulama Manga was a principal speaker on independence day.
Tree planting has become a traditional features of these celebrations -- with President Kountche, his ministers and foreign diplomats all their contributions. Last year uranium accounted for 74 per cent of Niger's experts -- representing a dramatic turn-around from the 1960's, when groundnuts reigned supreme with 70 per cent. Now uranium is earning the country more money than it can spend -- but already most of it is being channelled into projects aimed at achieving self-sufficiency in food.