PRETORIA – Niger’s former President Mamadou Tandja has died at age 82, the government said on Tuesday, announcing three days of national mourning.
It said Tandja died in the capital Niamey without revealing the cause, but according to ABC News, the former leader had been weakened by illness for several years and taken for medical treatment in France, Germany and Morocco.
His death came just over a month before Niger holds a presidential election
Tandja was elected president twice and ruled the country between 1999 and 2010 but was eventually overthrown in a coup after trying to change the constitution to extend his grip on power.
While serving as president of Niger, he was also chairman of the Economic Community of West African States from 2005 to 2007.
Niger was heavily in debt and not receiving any foreign aid due to a 1996 coup and the subsequent suspension of democratic institutions.
After winning elections in 1999, Tandja focused on economic development, negotiating with the civil service unions and rebuilding relations with the international community.
According to daily financial newspaper Business Recorder, Tandja also re-established ties with other African democracies including Nigeria.
Within months of assuming office, he travelled to France to meet with government and foreign aid officials. Following his visit French aid was restored to Niger.
The publication said that in 2000 the European Union committed to 63 billion francs (US$69 billion)in development projects in Niger. That same year, the International Monetary Fund granted Niger 53 billion francs (US$58 billion) for structural improvements.