Niger is an African nations which was colonized by the French. The country gained its independence from France on August 3, 1960. Hamani Diori, who served as prime minister prior to Niger's independence, became the country's first president, serving until 1974, when he was ousted by a coup. Following a period of political instability, a constitution for the Fifth Republic was adopted in 1999, which established Niger as a semi-presidential state. Another constitution was drafted in 2009 and adopted in 2010.
Executive Branch of Government
The Nigerien president is the head of state under the constitution and is elected by universal suffrage for a five year term. Executive power is shared with the Nigerien prime minister, who recommends members of the Council of the Ministers for approval by the president. Nigerien ministers are selected from the national assembly. The prime minister is nominated by the national assembly, and is subject to approval by the president, and heads the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers holds sessions with the president and advises the president on matters of policy and implements policies ordered by the president. The president can dissolve parliament, a right that is limited to once every two years. In addition to the legislature, the president and the prime minister can also propose legislation.
Legislative Branch of Government
The legislative branch of government in Niger is a unicameral national assembly. There are 171 members currently in the Nigerien National Assembly following elections on February 21, 2016, which is an increase from the previous 113 legislators. Members elected in multi-seat constituencies pass through a party-list proportional representation system. Elections for the eight single constituency seats are completed using the first-past-the-post system. The Nigerien National Assembly is mandated to nominate the prime minister and publicly investigate the executive agencies through the Commissions of Inquiry, committee hearings, formal parliamentary questions, hearings in plenary sittings, Interpellations, and "Question time."
Judicial Branch of Government
The highest Nigerien judicial institution is the Supreme Court of Niger. It gives audience to appeals from lower courts and only decides on the application of law in addition to constitutional questions. Each of the nation's eight regions has a court of appeals, which rules on questions of fact and law. Electoral and constitutional matters are given audience in the Constitutional Court of Niger. Seven members sit in this court, and it is managed by a president nominated by the members. A High Court of Justice (HCJ) tries government officials accused of committing crimes while exercising their mandate. The State Security Court handles military affairs. A network of Nigerien criminal and civil courts serves Nigerien citizens. There are customary courts in Niger which mediate on social issues including community disputes, land, and marriage.
Niger has a total of eight regions in the country: Tillaberi, Dosso, Zinder, Maradi, Agadez, Tahoua, Diffa, and the capital, Niamey. Each region is further divided into 36 different departments. These departments are further broken down into communes, which total 265. The communes elect mayors and councils. The departments govern cantons and group events. Rural communes administer areas with a population of lower than 10,000 people, while urban communes cover regions with populations of greater than 10,000. Other semi-autonomous subdivisions are provinces, sultanates, and tributaries.