reels post

All about News

Hot News

Why The Coup In Niger Is Drawing International Attention

A coup in the West African country of Niger has made headlines around the world, and it’s making global leaders nervous.

While it’s not the first time a coup has happened in the region – three nearby countries have also recently had their governments overthrown – Niger holds a particularly important role in within the continent, and on the world stage.

Here’s why it’s drawing so much international attention.

What’s happened?

On July 26, Niger’s soldiers detained the country’s president, Mohamed Bazoum, at his home in the capital of Niamey, and confirmed they had overthrown his leadership.

The military coup was spearheaded by the self-declared coup leader General Abdourahmane Tchiani, who was head of the presidential guard for 12 years.

It’s not entirely clear what motivated the military coup.

Tchiani has just used his platform to push back on the “illegal, unjust and inhuman” sanctions from the nearby African countries trying to stop the coup.

He has said he would never put the president back in his role.

But the president hasn’t actually been forced to flee or formally resign but is instead staying at home. He has been able to speak with both US secretary of state Antony Blinken and French president Emmanuel Macron, welcome Chad’s president Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno into his home and voice his frustration on social media.

How did neighbouring nations react?

The coup prompted neighbouring countries to take sides, with several threatening to start a war.

By July 30, a bloc called the Economic Community of West African States (made up of 15 countries) said President Bazoum needed to be returned to power within a week or face a backlash (including potential military response).

ECOWAS works to help stop rebellions since 1990, stop ceasefires and force out dictators.

The head of the bloc, President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria, is especially keen to push out the rebels, claiming the region cannot afford more coups.

And on Wednesday, Nigeria’s military chief of staff, Christopher Musa, told Radio France International, he would deploy his troops if forced.

But ECOWAS might not be as powerful as it is claiming to be.

Its last intervention happened in Gambia, back in 2017, when it stopped the president trying to overturn an election he lost.

But Niger is much more powerful than Gambia, with troops trained by US and European special forces.

Mali and Burkina Faso – both countries which have had their own successful coups – supported it, saying any move against the military-led Niger was a “declaration of war”.

Guinea also backed the rebels, but did not offer up its own military.

Why did the US and Europe get involved?

Niger has strong ties to the West, particularly France – it was a French colony until 1960.

Both the US and France have thousands of soldiers in the country to help tackle Islamist attacks across the region, previously seeing it as a democratic stronghold in west Africa to tackle jihadists.

Niger was the only country in the region not to have its government overthrown by a coup. Its neighbours, Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, are all run by the military after a rebellion.

It stuck out for promoting democratic hopes in the region, especially as Bazoum was elected in 2021, and his support from the West also helped bolster his authority in the country.

When the coup happened, the US and France warned Niger it would stop sending its aid money unless democracy was restored, and suspended its military operations in the country.

The coup leaders seem unperturbed, though – so the West began withdrawing its forces.

By Tuesday August 2, Europe was evacuating its citizens, and the US followed with a partial evacuation suite on Wednesday. The UK also urged against any travel other whole country, and is in the process of pulling its representatives out of the embassy there.

Meanwhile, thousands of people demonstrated outside the French embassy in Niamey last week, reportedly saying “Long live Putin” and “down with France”.

Niger’s ambassador to the US, Kiari Liman-Tinguiri, told the New York Times: “If this coup succeeds, it will be a disaster. A disaster for Niger, for the region and for the world.”

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) greets Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum as he arrives for a meeting at the Elysee Palace, amid the New Global Financial Pact Summit in Paris on June 23, 2023.

Christian Liewig – Corbis via Getty Images

Could this have further implications?

There are suspicions that the Kremlin encouraged the coup because several coup supporters have been pictured brandishing signs with Vladimir Putin’s name on them.

While there’s no proof of this as yet, Putin has been trying to assert more influence across Africa after his invasion of Ukraine left Russia much more isolated on the world stage.

He hasn’t had much luck so far though – his recent Russia-Africa summit saw just 17 heads of state attended, compared to 43 at the previous 2019 summit.

And, even if Moscow was not involved in the coup, Russia could still use the incident to its advantage.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Wagner mercenaries, is said to have offered his troops to the coup leaders in Niger, having led his own (aborted) coup attempt against the Russian ministry of defence only in June.

Wagner troops are already stationed in the nearby country of Mali. In fact, a Niger coup leader is said to have met with Wagner paramilitaries in Mali recently.

The region’s Islamist militants could also benefit from the instability brought on by the coup.

As Niger’s ambassador to the US, Liman-Tinguiri, told the New York Times: “It could provide a large base, a sanctuary to Wagner and the jihadists in the heart of West Africa. This is not another coup as usual.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *