Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara : biography
Colonel Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara (May 9, 1949 – April 9, 1999) was a military officer in the West African country of Niger who seized power in a January 1996 coup d’état and ruled the country until his assassination during the military coup of April 1999.
Maïnassara, a member of Niger’s Hausa ethnic majority, was born in Dogondutchi in 1949, and pursued a military career. Maïnassara was named Army Chief of Staff in March 1995, under a constitution which had moved Niger from military rule in 1991., BBC News, April 9, 1999.
On April 9, 1999, Maïnassara was shot to death by soldiers at the airport in the capital city of Niamey as he was going to board a helicopter., BBC News, April 12, 1999., Amnesty International, April 6, 2000. The circumstances of the killing were not clear; rumors suggested that Maïnassara was attempting to flee the country. Initially his death was officially described as an "unfortunate accident", but this claim was widely considered implausible., BBC News, December 22, 1999. Coup leader Daouda Malam Wanké succeeded him as head of state and initiated a political transition that ended with elections late in the year.
The constitution adopted in a July 1999 referendum provides for an amnesty for participants in both the 1996 and 1999 coups. An investigation into Maïnassara’s death had begun in June 1999, but following the amnesty it was ended in September., Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada (UNHCR.org), October 29, 1999. The RDP-Jama’a has demanded an international inquiry into his death in the years since., Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada (UNHCR.org), September 19, 2002.
Rule of Niger
Under Maïnassara’s rule, a new constitution was approved by referendum in May 1996, and a presidential election was held on July 7–8, 1996. Maïnassara took about 52% of the vote,, African Elections Database. but the election was widely viewed as fraudulent. On the second day of polling he had the electoral commission dissolved and replaced it with another electoral commission; on the same day, he also had the four opposition candidates placed under house arrest, which lasted for two weeks., Amnesty International, October 16, 1996. Maïnassara was sworn in on August 7.
The National Union of Independents for Democratic Renewal (UNIRD) was established in 1996 to support Maïnassara in that year’s elections, but subsequently the Rally for Democracy and Progress-Jama’a was established as the ruling party. With the constitution barring presidents from leading parties, Hamid Algabid became leader of the RDP-Jama’a in August 1997., IRIN-WA Weekly Roundup 10-97 of Main Events in West Africa covering period 19–25 August 1997.
Local elections were held in February 1999, and in early April the Supreme Court released results which showed the opposition winning more seats than Maïnassara’s supporters; the Court also cancelled the results in many areas and ordered elections there to be held again., IRIN, April 8, 1999., democratie.francophonie.org . The opposition called for protests against the cancellation of results on April 8.
Parliamentary elections in January 1995 resulted in cohabitation between President Mahamane Ousmane and a parliament controlled by his opponents, led by Prime Minister Hama Amadou.Jibrin Ibrahim and Abdoulayi Niandou Souley, , Unisa Press, Politeia, Vol. 15, No. 3, 1996. Rivalry between Ousmane and Amadou effectively paralyzed the government, and Maïnassara seized power on January 27, 1996, pointing to the difficult political situation as justification.Kaye Whiteman, , The Independent (London), April 12, 1999.