Jan 28 (Reuters) - Here is a timeline of major events in Niger over the past two decades as the West African state holds presidential elections on Monday:
April 1993 - The Supreme Court declares Mahamane Ousmane Niger’s first democratically-elected president. Results from the March 27 poll give social democrat Ousmane 55 percent and 45 percent to rival Mamadou Tandja, of the former ruling National Movement for a Society of Development (MNSD), the only party allowed prior to 1990 democratic reforms.
January 1996 - Army officers stage a coup, saying political squabbling had threatened economic reforms, incurring the anger of former colonial power France.
-- Armed forces Chief of Staff Lieutenant-Colonel Ibrahim Bare Mainassara becomes leader, saying the aim of the coup was to allow a fresh start and not to end multi-party democracy.
April 1999 - Dissident soldiers kill Mainassara at Niamey airport. Two days later Daouda Malam Wanke, commander of the presidential guard, takes power and later announces an elected president and return to civilian rule to be in place by 2000.
November 1999 - Tandja wins Niger’s presidential election, defeating former Prime Minister Mahamadou Issoufou and wins a second term after Dec. 2004’s vote and run-off.
July 2005 - The opposition Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) sharply criticises Tandja over his handling of a growing hunger crisis affecting 3.6 million people in Niger.
August 2007 - Tandja declares a state of alert in the desert north, giving security forces additional powers in their fight against Tuareg-led rebels.
April 6, 2009 - The government and main Tuareg rebel groups agree at Libyan-sponsored talks to make peace in the country’s uranium-mining north.
-- Nomadic Tuaregs had launched uprisings in the Sahara in the 1960s and 1990s. Renewed rebellions since 2007 against Niger had increased instability in the region.
Aug. 7 - Niger passes a constitutional reform with 90 percent of the vote in a referendum dismissed by opposition as fraudulent. The vote allows Tandja to rule for three more years.
Aug. 18 - The government steps down to allow Tandja to pick a new team, his first act under newly broadened powers.
Oct. 20 - West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS suspends Niger in protest against what it said was a flawed parliamentary election as Tandja’s ruling party wins 76 out of 113 seats.
Dec. 23 - The United States freezes most aid to Niger in response to Tandja’s refusal to relinquish his mandate.
Feb. 18, 2010 - A junta, calling itself the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (CSDR), captures Tandja and his ministers in a gunbattle, leaving three dead, before suspending the constitution and dissolving all state bodies.
Feb. 21 - Niger’s military plans to run the country until politicians agree on a new constitution and are ready for fresh elections, ECOWAS says after meeting the junta.
July 4 - Niger sets presidential election for Jan. 2011. Jan. 31 - Presidential elections to restore civilian rule. (For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: africa.reuters.com/ ) (Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)