ABC News reports that former Nigerien President Mamadou Tandja reportedly passed away this past Tuesday. The exact cause of death is unclear but reports indicate that the 82-year-old had been battling age-related illnesses for several years. The former head-of-state succumbed to his illness(s) in a hospital in Niamey, Niger. According to VoA, the Nigerien government officially called for the nation to enter into a three-day mourning period.
Tandja was elected into Niger’s presidency in 1999 and ruled for over a decade until 2010. Tandja was commended for bringing stability to the country when Niger had considerable religious conflicts and was subsequently re-elected in 2004. According to The Washington Post, Tandja attempted to amend the Nigerien constitution to secure a third term after serving two successive presidential terms. A military coup ultimately removed Tandja in February of 2010 following waves of national anti-government protests. Current President Mahamadou Issoufou assumed office in April 2011, a year after Tandja’s ousting.
The former president reportedly re-established ties with neighbouring East African countries like Nigeria. He also went on to chair the regional body East Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) during his presidency during the years 2005-2007. Additionally, Tandja maintained presidential ties with the international community and was credited for Niger’s economic resurgence through billions of dollars in aid from France.
The former politician’s death comes a month before Niger’s presidential elections are set to take place on December 27th of this year.