Protest over 2018 budget law: CSO banned and activists arrested
On 29th October, Association de défense des droits des Consommateurs, des Technologies, de l’Information, de la Communication et de l’Energie (Association for the Rights of Consumers, Technologies, Information, Communication and Energy - ACTICE), among others, organised a protest in Niamey against the draft 2018 Finance Law, which was adopted by the Council of Ministers on 25th September. The protesters denounced the law, saying that it is "antisocial" and will lead to higher prices for basic goods and additional new taxes. The protest turned violent as some of those gathered at Place Toume defied a ban and marched to Place de Concertation in front of the National Assembly. Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters, and some of the protesters threw stones and burned tyres. Minister of Interior Mohamed Bazoum said on public television that 23 police officers were injured and 14 vehicles were destroyed, while he also announced the dissolution of ACTICE, as the organiser of the protest with the authorisation for hold the protest (see section below for additional information). Despite the protest, the draft law was approved by the National Assembly on 26th November. Protesters gathered again in Niamey on 31st December to demonstrate against the 2018 Finance Law, after a call to mobilise from the two main political opposition coalitions.
On 12th December 2017, thousands of students protested in Niamey to demand payment of their bursary, better living conditions for students on campus as well as justice for a student who was killed during the student protests in April 2017.
One of the protesters told RFI:
"We feel that enough is enough. For a state where we have oil, we have uranium, and etc. We do not agree".
In response to the protest actions against the 2018 Finance Law, the authorities targeted ACTICE, the main organiser of the 29th October demonstration (see section above). The government issued a decree effective 30th October that banned all ACTICE activities on the territory of Niger. In addition, authorities arrested three civil society activists from ACTICE - Abass Abdoul Aziz Tanko, Abdoulaye Harouna and Djibo Issa - on charges of "participation in an unauthorised protest and armed gathering”. On 24th November, a judge ordered their release but also ordered them to pay for the damages to public property during the protest.
In November, the Government of Niger withdrew from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), following its suspension on 26th October by the EITI Board due to inadequate progress overall in implementing the EITI Standard, including with regard to civil society engagement, stating that:
"Having considered developments subsequent to Validation, the EITI Board also determined that Niger has made inadequate progress in meeting the EITI’s requirements on civil society engagement, which also implies suspension as per requirement 8.3.c.i".