Caroline Jones
Sun, Jul 30, 2023 3:10 PM

West African countries meet to discuss Niger military coup

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West African countries meet to discuss Niger military coup
West African countries are meeting in Abuja to discuss the situation in Niger following a military coup. Possible sanctions are on the table, following similar actions taken by the EU and France, who have suspended budgetary and security assistance. Pressure is mounting on General Abdourahamane Tiani, the leader of the coup who overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) can impose sanctions on the Niger. The African Union (AU) has given the military a 15-day ultimatum to reinstate the constitutional authority. The situation has raised concerns among international partners, including the US, which has pledged unwavering support for Niger's democracy.

West African countries are convening in Abuja on Sunday for a special summit to assess the situation in Niger following the recent military coup. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is considering possible sanctions against Niger. This follows France and the European Union (EU), who have already suspended their budgetary and security aid, stating that they do not recognize the "authorities" resulting from the coup.

General Abdourahamane Tiani, the proclaimed leader of Niger, orchestrated the coup which resulted in the seizure of President Mohamed Bazoum, who has been held captive for the past four days. Bola Tinubu, the Nigerian president leading the West African bloc, condemned the coup as soon as it took place and promised that the organization and the international community would do everything in their power to defend democracy and its entrenchment in the sub-region.

France provided €120 million in development assistance to Niger in 2022, and it was expected to increase slightly in 2023. However, this funding will not be delivered due to the coup, according to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The African Union (AU) has given the military a 15-day ultimatum to restore "constitutional authority."

The United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, assured Mohamed Bazoum of Washington's unwavering support, emphasizing that the coup jeopardizes the partnership between the United States and Niger. Blinken also spoke with President Tinubu, expressing deep concern while acknowledging the president's leadership and efforts to restore constitutional order in Niger, according to Matthew Miller, a spokesperson for the State Department.

Niger, located in the heart of the Sahel region, is one of the world's poorest countries. It is a vast desert territory with a population of approximately 20 million, experiencing one of the highest population growth rates in the world. Niamey is also the last remaining ally with whom France maintains a combat partnership against jihadists in this region plagued by instability, insecurity, and attacks.

Paris currently has approximately 1,500 troops in Niger, who have been working jointly with the local army. The civilian movement M62, which previously protested against the French military's Operation Barkhane in the Sahel region and Sahara, has called for demonstrations despite the ban on gatherings.

General Tiani, who was proclaimed the head of state by his peers, justified the coup on Wednesday due to the "deteriorating security situation." While acknowledging the "appreciable" support of Niger's "external partners," including France and the United States (1,100 soldiers), General Tiani asked them to "trust my Defense and Security Forces (DSF)."

This discreet high-ranking officer's coup has been strongly condemned by Western partners of Niamey, several African countries, and the United Nations, who have all called for the release of Mohamed Bazoum. Despite being under house arrest, Bazoum's entourage has declared that he is doing well. In Nairobi, Kenyan President William Ruto expressed his belief that Africa has suffered a serious setback in its democratic progress due to this coup.

Ibrahim Yacouba, the former president's Energy Minister, called on ECOWAS and the AU to fight for the "immediate release" of Mohamed Bazoum and the resumption of his duties. Niger, rich in uranium, has a history marked by coups since gaining independence from France in 1960. The region is also unstable, with the country being the third to experience a coup since 2020, following military takeovers in Mali and Burkina Faso.

A relative calm has settled in the streets of Niamey on Saturday following the ban on pro-coup demonstrations. The residents have resumed their activities, but there has been an increased presence of Defense and Security Forces in the streets, according to an AFP journalist. The junta, consisting of all branches of the military, gendarmerie, and police, has suspended institutions, closed land and air borders, and imposed a curfew from midnight to 5 am.

Source of content: OOO News 2023-07-30 News

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