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Niger Civil Society Groups Meet After Government Ban


Niger's civil society groups are set to meet Friday, in the capital Niamey to discuss the country's economic and social problems.The meeting had originally been banned by the government.

Organizers of the Niger social forum say they have invited a broad spectrum of non-governmental organizations to the meeting, from groups advocating women's rights to those working with peasants in rural areas.

Niger ranks last on United Nation's scale of human development, which measures countries' investment in education and health as well as income.

Moussa Tchangari, president of the forum's organizing committee, says the meeting is urgently needed.

He says because the government has not addressed the country's social problems, it is up to the country's private organizations to try to find a solution. Tchangari says the forum's independence has not pleased the government.

Niamey city officials gave organizers one day's notice that they would have to cancel plans for a concert and parade opening the forum Friday evening.

The event has already been delayed a week following a temporary ban by government officials in NIger.

In an apparent reference to forum attendees from neighboring countries and Europe, a government spokesman said it would not tolerate outsiders dictating how to run the country

Niger is ranked as one of the world's poorest countries. As a result, wave of strikes against the rising cost of living have plagued the country for several years.