Djibo, Salou (Niger)
Salou Djibo came to power in Feb. 2010 after a military coup. An army squadron leader, he was one of a faction that objected to President Mamadou Tandja’s law change allowing him to extend his term of office. Despite a low public profile, Djibo was named leader of the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy by fellow coup members. He has pledged to prepare the country for democratic elections.
Salou Djibo was born on 15 April 1965 in the village of Namaro in western Niger. He joined the army in 1987, serving in several divisions before training as an officer in Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire. He rose through the ranks, becoming squadron leader by 2006. During this period he became a specialist in artillery warfare, participating in training programmes in China and Morocco. He served on two UN peacekeeping missions, in Côte d’Ivoire in 2004 and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2006, after which he returned to Niger to take command of a garrison in Niamey.
Following President Tandja’s amendment of the constitution to extend his term of office, Djibo joined an army faction opposed to his actions in late 2009. Against a background of domestic protests and growing international pressure, during which Niger was suspended from the Economic Community of West African States, a group of senior officers including Djibo, planned a takeover. On 18 Feb. 2010 troops stormed the presidential palace and seized control of government, imprisoning Tandja. Djibo was named leader of the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy and announced that he was forming a transitional government.
On taking power Djibo dissolved the constitution and put government business under the control of regional and ministerial leaders. On 24 Feb. 2010 he appointed Mahamadou Danda, a civilian and former spokesman of Niger’s 1999 transitional government, as temporary prime minister. In March 2010 Djibo acknowledged that Niger would suffer famine later in the year. His government also announced a review of uranium contracts in a bid to ensure transparency. After enjoying initial widespread public support and cautious co-operation from the international community, Djibo insisted that the military-led government would work towards holding general elections and that no member of the junta would be allowed to stand in the presidential election (scheduled for Jan. 2011). In Oct. 2010 a new constitution designed to facilitate the restoration of civilian rule was approved in a national referendum. Djibo decided not to run in the 2011 presidential elections and was succeeded by Mahamadou Issoufou, who won the run-off on 12 March 2011.