! FIRST AND FOREMOST ! : The World Students Society is the exclusive and eternal ownership of every student of Niger, just as it is the exclusive ownership of every student in the world.

'' HOW AND WHERE COULD THEY GET FOOD ? '' : Since a military coup in Niger this summer, work days for Ahmed Alhousseini have been consumed with calls from increasingly worried clients and colleagues asking the same questions :

How, and where, could they get food?  An executive for a leading food importer in Niger, Mr. AIhousseini said one recent morning that he had spent his weekend hunting for cooking oil in Niamey, the capital city,with no luck.

TOMATOES he had bought weeks earlier were rotting in Ghana, pasta was stranded in Senegal and rice supplies would run out by the end of the month.

On the busy street outside his office that morning, grocery shop owners he usually supplied were lining up - as they have frequently in recent weeks.

AFTER MUTINOUS soldiers seized power in Niger, West African countries froze financial transactions, closed their borders with Niger and cut off most of its electricity supply in an effort to pressure the generals into restoring constitutional order.

The new leaders, led by Gen. Andourahamane Tchiani, haven't budged, but the cost is mounting. Sanctions and other penalties are now strangling Niger's economy, with food prices and shortages growing and many medicines becoming increasingly scarce.

'' CLOSING Niger's borders is like depriving us of air,'' said Mr. AIhousseini, the managing director of Oriba RICE. '' We can't breathe.''

THE COUP in Niger was the sixth in less than three years in West Africa, and the sanctions imposed by a block of West African nations on the landlocked country of 25 million have been the toughest yet.

Mohammad Bazoum, the ousted president, remains imprisoned with his family in his home, surrounded by military barracks and invisible from the outside.

But in Niamey, few openly regret him and many have welcomed the new military leaders amid perceptions that a decade of civilian rule, tainted by widespread allegations of corruptions, had failed to improve their lives.

As shelves of food stores and pharmaceuticals are emptying, anger is building against the West African countries and France, the former coloniser whose presence in the region has set off a backlash that has grown in recent years.

Until the coup, French troops were fighting insurgents alongside Niger's army, but they have since been blamed for their inability to stop attacks and even been accused of collaborating with armed groups.

The coup has also dealt a blow to years long efforts by Western countries to provide military assistance and development aid.

Those countries, among them the United States, saw Niger has a last hope for stabilization in a region plagued by growing security threats.

The Publishing continues. The World Students Society thanks author Elian Peltier.


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