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Hamani Diori, Niger's First President After Gaining Independence in 1960

April 25, 1989|From Times Wire Services

RABAT, Morocco — Hamani Diori, Niger's first president after it won independence from France in 1960 and who served until he was ousted in a coup 14 years later, has died, officials said Monday. He was 73.

Moroccan government officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he died Sunday. They provided no cause of death.

Diori ruled Niger, a landlocked Sahelian state, from independence from France until he was toppled in a military coup in 1974 by Lt. Col. Seyni Kountche.

He spent the next 10 years in jail and was then put under house arrest. He was freed in 1987 after President Kountche's death.

Before independence, Diori founded the Niger Progressive Party that favored close ties with France. He was the clear choice to lead the nation among French officials, who banned competing political parties.

Diori was elected to three five-year terms but his rule was troubled by domestic strife, political instability, allegations of corruption and the catastrophic Sahelian drought of the 1960s and early 1970s.

During his reign, stories of corruption at the highest levels became widespread. Government officials were accused of hoarding food aid and selling it at inflated prices instead of distributing it to the hungry.

Since Kountche's death, Diori had made his home in the Moroccan capital of Rabat.

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