The new military regime in Niger allowed first film out of the country on Thursday (18 April) following the coup on 15 April which ousted President Hamani Diori, who had ruled the country since its independence in 1960.
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Background: The new military regime in Niger allowed first film out of the country on Thursday (18 April) following the coup on 15 April which ousted President Hamani Diori, who had ruled the country since its independence in 1960. The film was shot by Visnews cameraman Patrice Mongnet, who is based in Nismey, the capital.
The new regime, headed by Lieutenant-Colonel Seyni kountche who led the coup as Chief of Staff of the 2,500-man army has accused the ousted government of corruption and indifference. Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, is one of the worst-affected of the six drought-ridden West african Sahel countries on the southern fringes of the Sahara desert.
The drought in the land-locked nation is now in its sixth year, and on Friday (19 April) Colonel kountche appealed to 'oreign ambassadors for more international aid. Earlier in the week, in a radio broadcasts, he said the former regime had been selfish, conscienceless, irresponsible and had lacked organisation and initiative when confronted with the drought".
The coup took place as negotiations were going on between France and Niger for a ten-fold increase in the price of uranium which the French buy from their for colony. Meanwhile, observers have pointed out that contrary to the new regime's denouncement of Diori, the former President's records as an African statesman, moderate, mediator between disputing states, and negotiator for international aid and development for Niger, must stand in his favour.
President Diori, whose wife was killed in the relatively bloodless coup, was under house arrest his week. The new regime has been considering putting him and his former ministers on trial.
Colonel Kountche, 43 years old, is a product of French military training who joined the Niger army in 1961 -- a year after the country won its independence from France. Interviewed on Radio Niger soon after his troops took power in Niamey, Colonel Kountche said the army was motivated by the catastrophic situation faced by the country, and not by ambition.
Immediately following the coup, Colonel kountche suspended the constitution, dissolved the National Assembly, banned all political groups, imposed a night curfew, and closed the international airport at Niamey. The airport has since re-opened.