With the July 1999 constitution, Niger has a semi-presidential system; executive power lies with the president and the prime minister together. The president is directly elected for five years. In principle, legislative power lies with the 113-seat National Assembly. The country has a multi-party system; political parties must win at least 5% of the vote to be represented in the Assembly. The current Assembly has five parties; its president is Mahamane Ousmane, leader of the opposition CDS party. The judiciary consists of four independent bodies on the French model.
The local elections of July 2004 elected the councils of 265 communes. The administrative structure also includes the level of departments and regions. The actual delegation of decision-making power will take many years.
The political situation in Niger is reasonably stable. Within the army, it remains unsettled because of the low pay and sympathies for the assassinated former president Baré. The student community, plagued by poor university facilities, protests regularly. Trade unions traditionally wield a great deal of power in Niger and regularly organise strikes by the various professional groups.
The increase of VAT on basic products such as flour, sugar and milk and the water and electricity tariffs led to massive protests in Niamey. The broad social protest movement united in la Coalition contre la vie chère.
The current political situation is described in the history section.
Since 1996 the government has undertaken various economic and structural reforms, supported by the World Bank, IMF and other donors. In 2004 Niger reached the completion point under the HIPC initiative. This made the country eligible at the end of 2005 for far-reaching debt relief under the July 2005 G-8 Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). Since 2005 Niger has benefited from an IMF Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) in order to implement further structural reforms, and the government is drafting a Poverty Reduction Strategy Plan (PRSP), focusing on improving primary education, health care, agriculture and judicial reform. The privatisation of twelve state-owned companies, including the telephone company, is progressing steadily.
Economic growth is expected to be 4.9% in 2017, but rising oil prices and declining uranium export revenues (91% of total exports) may depress this figure. GDP is very low at $1,200 per year (2017). 45% of the population lives below the poverty line.
CIA - World Factbook
BBC - Country Profiles
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