Decentralization/Federalism: Agreement Between the Republic Niger Government and the ORA
1995 PEACE AGREEMENT
Section II. Territorial and Administrative Organisation
B. The Organisation and the Powers of the "Collectivites Territoriales"
The “Collectivités territoriales” will be equipped with Councils or Assemblies, elected by direct universal suffrage and the Presidents elected within them will be the head of regional, departmental and communal executives.
Within the framework of their free administration, the elected Councils or Assemblies will govern their own affairs by deliberation in the fields planned by the law which are for example the budget, the conception, the programming, the carrying out, the follow-up and the evaluation of actions of economic, social and cultural development having a regional or a local interest.
C. Representatives of the State: Their Powers
The representation of the State will be provided by:
- one representative in the Region
- one representative in the Department
- one representative in the Arrondissement
- one Mayor elected in the Municipality.
The denomination of these representatives will be determined by the law.
The representatives of the State will have the following mission:
a. to supervise the application of the laws and regulations of the State within the limits of the territory of the administrative unit.
b. to guarantee the control of the lawfulness a posteriori of decisions and actions taken by the “collectivités territoriales”.
c. to give advice and assistance from technical State services to the “collectivités territoriales”, on their demand.
The April 1995 peace agreements provided for the decentralization of the government so that the Niger Tuareg community could manage the northern areas of the country, where it constituted the majority, in a more autonomous way.
Tuareg delegates did not attend an important meeting with the commission for administrative decentralization on 4 July 1995. Official sources gave no explanation, but there were difficulties in implementing the agreement signed a few weeks earlier between the government and the former rebels.1 According to the news report, contact was resumed with all the movements which signed the peace agreement in April 1995.
On 15 August 1995, the president called a cabinet meeting to discuss a bill determining the functions of the high commissioner for administrative reform and decentralization, and the organization of his units.2
On 14 December 1995, the Special Peace Committee met and one of the issues discussed was the implementation of decentralization law.3
- 1. "Niger; Tuareg delegates boycott meeting on decentralization," BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, July 6, 1995.
- 2. "Niger; President convenes cabinet meeting for 15th August," BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, August 12, 1995).
- 3. "Niger; Special Peace Committee holds fourth session in Niamey," BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, December 15, 1995.
The chairman of Niger's National Salvation Council (CNS), Col Ibrahim Barre Mainassara, who toppled President Mahmane Ousmane on 27 January 1996, gave a speech to a "meeting for the national forum on Niger's future" on 31 Jan and said that the forum should not fail to discuss important issues such as decentralization.4 According tot he UNHCR, the new regime took some steps incluidng autonomy "as part of a decentralization program.”5
The monitoring committee for the implementation of the peace accord in Niger met from 3–5 September 1997 to discuss issues related to decentralization.6
- 6. "Peace committee reaches agreements on reintegration of "rebels"," BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, September 8, 1997.
As of 4 October 1998, the decentralization bill had not yet passed by the National Assembly. For this reason, the local election was postponed to the 7 Feb. 1999.7
- 7. "Niger: Government Postpones Local Elections to 7th February 1999," BBC Monitoring Africa – Political, October 6, 1998.
On 7 February 1999, local elections were held, which the US State Department praised as a significant step in an ambitious program of decentralization.8 The National Assembly has not passed the decentralization bill. The Tuareg leaders demanded "the introduction of a federal system before evolving towards autonomy" in regions with Tuareg majority.9
The bill on decentralization was not passed in the year 2000.
The main bill related to decentralization discussed in previous years, was not passed in year 2001. However, other significant decentralization programs and laws were passed in 2001. "The administration made restructuring government a priority through a policy of decentralization with the introduction of new local authorities. By April 2001, the government had set up 229 new councils, 178 of them in rural areas, with devolved power at regional, district and commune levels.”10
- 10. "Africa Review World of Information," Niger - Review, July 9, 2001.
Further bills were passed in 2002. “The National Assembly passed in June 2002 a series of decentralization bills. As a first step, administrative powers have been distributed among 265 communes (local councils); in later stages, regions and departments will be established as decentralized entities. A new electoral code was adopted to reflect the decentralization context. The country is currently divided into 8 regions, which are subdivided into 36 districts (departments). The chief administrators in each region (Governor) and department (Prefect) are appointed by the government and function primarily as the local agents of the central authorities."11
- 11. “Municipal & Community Development Project: Pre-Departure Country & Technical Training 2007,” Peace Crops-Niger, 2007, accessed August 18, 2010, http://niger.peacecorps.gov/pdfs/pre-departure_training_mcd_final.pdf.
No developments observed this year.
After the passage of the decentralization bill in 2002, Niger had municipal elections in July 2004. “Some 3,700 people were elected to new local governments in 265 newly established communes.” While the ruling MNSD party won more positions in the elections, opposition parties also made significant gains.12