Two weeks ago, I looked at the question of whether the February 2010 military coup in Niger – which resulted in a transfer of power to civilian leaders just 14 months later – had restored or undermined democracy. This week, a related question surfaced: will Niger’s new civilian government hold the former military junta accountable for its actions, and if so, how?
Jeune Afrique (Fr) reports on a recent audit of the junta that has revealed billions of missing F CFA. Allegations of corruption date back beyond the junta to the regime of ousted President Mamadou Tandja as well. Here is my bad translation of a few key paragraphs:
Operation clean hands in Niger. For the first time, the management of the military junta, in power between February 2010 and April 2011, has been scrutinized. The State General Inspection is currently undertaking an audit of this period and, according to its first conclusions, close to 30 billion F CFA (close to 46 million Euros) may have been illegally taken from public accounts when Salou Djibo’s Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy was in power.But the era of Tandja is also being closely studied. Three high functionaries in Finance have been dismissed – a decision announced in the Council of Ministers on June 22, after the discovery of a misappropriation of 1.5 billion F CFA.
As the article goes on to say, the junta itself had conducted investigations of the Tandja regime. But it is one thing to go after an ousted and disgraced administration, and quite another to go after a group that earned domestic and international plaudits for its efforts to create and facilitate a smooth transition to civilian rule.
The revelation that military rulers may have diverted state funds for personal use will shock few. The tricky question seems to be what comes next – will there be prosecutions? Or are the disincentives too strong against prosecuting military officers who regard themselves as guardians of democracy? Publicizing the results of the investigation already took substantial courage on the part of the civilian regime. Going further with efforts at demanding accountability will require more courage still.