Niger military hands over power

2011-04-07 22:35

Niamey - Niger's newly elected president Mahamadou Issoufou was sworn in Thursday, ending the period of military transition that began in February 2010 after the overthrow of Mamadou Tandja.

"I will be the president of all the Nigeriens," said Issoufou during the investiture ceremony at a stadium in the capital Niamey, after he took the oath on the Qur'an.

Several African heads of states were among the three thousand people attending the ceremony.

They included President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal; Mali's Amadou Toumani Toure; Congo-Brazzaville's Denis Sassou N'Guesso; Ali Bongo of Gabon; Benin's Yayi Boni; and Liberia's Helen Johnson Sirleaf.

France, the former colonial power, was represented by co-operation minister Henri de Raincourt.

Anne Lauvergeon, chief executive of Areva, the French nuclear group, which runs uranium mines in the north of the country, also attended.

Issoufou paid tribute to General Salou Djibo, the officer who had headed up the transitional military administration, praising him for having honoured his promise to hand over to a civilian administration.

He promised to eradicate hunger and to fight corruption and insecurity in the country, which is battling the threat of al-Qaeda cells which have kidnapped several Westerners in recent years.

He has argued for closer co-operation with his neighbours in the Sahel region to fight the threat and has promised the army more men, better trained and better equipped.

Issoufou, 59, won a March 12 presidential election with 58% of votes to 42% for former prime minister Seini Oumarou, the election commission said.

The February 18 2010, coup unseated Mamadou Tandja after 10 years in power.