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Restoring Democracy In Niger

The United States hopes for a speedy return to democracy and the rule of law in Niger.

The junta that overthrew the president of Niger has moved quickly to assure their countrymen and the international community that military rule there will be temporary and constitutional order restored to the West African nation soon. The United States hopes for a speedy return to democracy and the rule of law in Niger.

It joins Niger's neighbors and others in the international community in condemning the use of military means to overthrow governments anywhere in the world, and will work closely with them to do everything it can to see democracy returned to Niger as rapidly as possible.

The coup leaders struck February 18, seizing President Mamadou Tandja in an armed assault on the presidential palace during a cabinet meeting. While the U.S. protested President Tandja's actions last year dissolving the National Assembly and Constitutional Court to extend his term and gain increased powers, political violence should never be used to address political tension. That message appears sadly lost in West Africa, however, as the Niger coup is the region's third in 18 months, following upheavals in Mauritania and Guinea.

It also follows a familiar script in which the military leaders promise a quick return to constitutional rule, but with an uncertain timeline. While there appears to be some popular relief at President Tandja's removal, given his autocratic actions last summer, this could turn quickly if no one really knows who is running the country or for how long.

The United States supports the hopes of the people of Niger to see restored constitutional order and a peaceful transition through prompt, free and fair elections. It will continue to monitor the situation closely as it unfolds.