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Decentralisation and local power in Niger

Abdoulaye Mohamadou

Issue paper, 24 pages

This paper analyses the effects of decentralisation on local politics in a canton in central southern Niger, with a particular focus on the role of two types of actor: the ‘traditional chiefs’, and professionals (high-ranking officials, teachers, customs officers and union activists) originating from the canton. Despite significant differences in their status, both groups play an important role at the local level due to their position or their links with central government. Both are also concerned about how decentralisation will affect them, as the emergence of locally elected officials threatens the traditional chiefs’ virtual control over local affairs, and raises questions about the professionals’ legitimacy within their political parties and the state apparatus. The paper is based on data collected between 2002 and 2007 as part of a research programme, which began monitoring about 20 municipalities in the run-up to the elections. The author was responsible for monitoring the five municipalities in the canton of Birnin Lallé, using a historic and socio-anthropological approach and qualitative surveys. The first section of this paper looks at the history of local power in the department of Dakoro, where the canton of Birnin Lallé is located; while the second part covers the creation of the municipalities, focusing on the municipality in the former canton of Birnin Lallé.

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