Liam Johnson
Thu, Aug 3, 2023 10:45 AM

West Africa's Regional Bloc Considers Military Intervention in Niger as Nigeria Slashes Electricity Supplies

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West Africa's Regional Bloc Considers Military Intervention in Niger as Nigeria Slashes Electricity Supplies
West Africa's regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), is considering a military intervention as a last resort in Niger, which is under the control of coup leaders. Nigeria has also cut electricity supplies to intensify pressure on the coup leaders. France and the United States are evacuating their citizens from Niger, while ECOWAS leaders have imposed trade and financial sanctions on the country. However, the coup leaders are showing no signs of stepping down, and neighboring countries like Mali and Burkina Faso have warned against military intervention. Russia has called for national dialogue in Niger, and the World Bank has suspended aid to the country. President Mohamed Bazoum, who won elections earlier this year, was overthrown in the coup. The coup leaders have declared themselves in charge, but their claim has been condemned internationally. The situation in Niger is closely watched due to its strategic importance in the fight against jihadist insurgency in the Sahel region.

West Africa's regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has stated that a military intervention in Niger is "the last resort" as Nigeria cuts electricity supplies to intensify pressure on the country's coup leaders. France has sent in a fifth plane to evacuate its citizens, while the United States has ordered a partial evacuation of its embassy in Niamey. ECOWAS leaders imposed trade and financial sanctions on Niger's coup leaders, giving them a week to reinstate the country's democratically elected president or face the possible use of force.

Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs, peace, and security, stated that the "military option is the very last option on the table, the last resort, but we have to prepare for the eventuality." A delegation from ECOWAS is currently in Niger for negotiations, while military chiefs from West African countries are meeting in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, to discuss the situation.

Nigeria, the current chair of ECOWAS and West Africa's pre-eminent military and economic power, has taken a firm line against coups since they started proliferating across the region in 2020. As a result of the sanctions, Nigeria has cut electricity supplies to Niger, which depends on its neighbor for 70 percent of its power. Junta-ruled Mali and Burkina Faso have warned that any military intervention in Niger would be considered a "declaration of war" against them.

The coup leader, General Abdourahamane Tiani, and his delegation arrived in Mali's capital, Bamako, on Wednesday. In an interview broadcast on Malian state television, General Tiani stressed the need for cooperation between the two countries. Meanwhile, Russia called for "urgent national dialogue" in Niger and warned that threats of intervention "will not help ease tensions or calm the domestic situation."

The World Bank announced that it is suspending aid to Niger "other than private sector partnerships," becoming the latest international organization to take action in response to the coup. European countries have also been evacuating their citizens from Niger, with France organizing evacuation flights and the US ordering the partial evacuation of its embassy in Niamey. Italy has evacuated civilians, including Italians and other nationals, who arrived in Rome on Wednesday.

President Mohamed Bazoum, who won elections earlier this year, was overthrown on July 26 when members of his own guard detained him at the presidency. General Tiani, the commander of the coup, declared himself leader, but his claim has been condemned internationally. Despite the international sanctions and pressure, Tiani stated that French nationals have nothing to fear and that he refuses to give in to any threat.

Niger has played a key role in French and Western strategies to combat the jihadist insurgency in the Sahel region. The country has experienced four previous coups since gaining independence from France in 1960. The coup in Niger is closely watched due to its strategic importance in the fight against armed Islamists who have advanced into neighboring countries like Mali and Burkina Faso. The insurgency has caused immense civilian and military casualties and has devastated economies in the region.

France had previously focused its military efforts on Burkina Faso and Mali but reconfigured its force last year to focus on Niger. The country has around 1,500 troops deployed, many of them stationed at an air base near Niamey.

Source of content: OOO News 2023-08-03 News

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