This Saturday, the new president of Niger Mohamed Bazoum appointed as Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou, a technician listened to at the palace and very close to the former head of state Mahamadou Issoufou.
It is undoubtedly the choice of continuity. Mahamadou Issoufou counted Mohamed Bazoum among his followers; Bazoum will be able to rely on Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou. Appointed Prime Minister on Saturday, the latter is a technician who knows all the files of the presidency. But above all, he is close to Issoufou and Bazoum. The former boss of the International Bank for Africa in Niger has already been minister - of Mines and Finance - several times before becoming the chief of staff of the president who has just left office. "He is both the gray eminence and the quiet force of the presidential palace", summarize relatives of the new Prime Minister. His appointment therefore seems obvious.
The choice of Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou indeed shows the will of the new president of Niger to give the keys of the prime minister's office to a man who combines three important qualities: work, discretion and loyalty. It also shows that one of the challenges of Bazoum's new mandate, in addition to the security aspect, is the development of the economy.
Former of the Ministry of Finance and former bank boss, Mahamadou will have to stay the course set by Mahamadou Issoufou who, in 2012, had succeeded in quintupling the country's economic growth. Growth that had flirted with the 5% average between 2011 and 2020. The Prime Minister will however have to monitor the deficit of Niger, which reached almost 17% of GDP in 2020 according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Finally, Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou will have to diversify the country's economy, which is essentially based on agriculture.
The right arm of President Issoufou
His technician profile should therefore allow Niger to keep the path traced by Issoufou during his two terms. Bazoum can be proud of having in any case a new Prime Minister who will not think of replacing him at the first misstep: Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou is reputed to be foreign to political calculations and largely prefers to work on his files. Issoufou, then a candidate for his own succession, had been able to count on him by appointing him campaign manager in 2016.
The 76-year-old economist, born in the Tahoua region - the Issoufou region - may be discreet, he has always been influential within the Nigerian Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS), the political formation in to be able to. Also at the palace, since the man has been listened to by the president since 2011. Notably because he knows all the important issues of the country inside out.
If Bazoum is the new president of Niger, with this appointment, the shadow of Issoufou should continue to hang over the presidential palace. Given the record of the former Nigerien president, it is in the interest of his successor to avoid a break with the ten years of Issoufou. The new government will be formed "in the coming days", says one on the side of the palace. For Niger to get back to work after a post-election crisis that slowed down the country.