Page last updated at 03:12 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Niger coup leaders name transitional government

Major Salou Djibo
Major Djibo promises a return to democracy

The military leadership in Niger has formed a new transitional government of 20 ministers, including five soldiers and five women.

According to state radio, the defence, sport and environment ministries, went to three generals close to the former President, Mamadou Tandja.

On Monday, the new military leader, Major Salou Djibo, promised to return Niger to democracy but set no date.

President Tandja was ousted last month, after he changed the constitution.

He had sought to remain in power beyond the end of his second term in office.

After the coup, the constitution was suspended and the cabinet dissolved.

Economic progress

Major Djibo, who heads the Supreme Council for Restoration of Democracy (CSRD), says elections will be held after a transitional period of unspecified duration.

Map of Niger
Chronic poverty
Population 14 million, 61% live on less than $1 a day
Resource rich
Huge reserves of uranium, Chinese firms digging for oil
Politically unstable
History of coups, assassinations and on-off rebellion by nomadic Tuareg people in the north

Source: World Bank

"The Council commits itself to restoring the constitutional order that will be proposed by the consultative council" set up to advise on the country's future, he said.

"Our only goal is to accompany the return to democracy in our dear homeland," Major Djibo added.

Last week, Mahamadou Danda, who served as communications minister in an earlier government, was appointed interim prime minister.

Niger has experienced long periods of military rule since independence from France in 1960.

But Mr Tandja's supporters argue that his decade in power has brought a measure of economic stability to the poor West African nation.

Under his tenure, the French energy firm Areva began work on the world's second-biggest uranium mine - ploughing an estimated $1.5bn (£970m) into the project.

China National Petroleum Corporation signed a $5bn deal in 2008 to pump oil within three years.

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People's Daily Online Nigerien junta names transition government - 24 hrs ago
Al Jazeera Niger transitional government named - 26 hrs ago
SINA Niger junta announces 20-minister provisional gov't - 28 hrs ago
France24 NIGER: Military junta appoints transitional government - 34 hrs ago
Inter Press Service POLITICS-NIGER: First Steps Towards the Restoration of Democracy? - 27 Feb 2010

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