Josephine Thompson
Sun, Jul 30, 2023 8:05 PM

The Political Crisis in Niger: Ecowas Suspends Relations, Threatens Military Intervention

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The Political Crisis in Niger: Ecowas Suspends Relations, Threatens Military Intervention
The West African economic community, Ecowas, has suspended relations with Niger following the recent coup d'état. Ecowas has authorized the use of force if democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum is not reinstated within a week. This decision was made during a special session held in Nigeria. The African Union also gave the military junta 15 days to restore the elected government. Meanwhile, thousands of supporters of the coup took to the streets of Niamey, waving Russian flags and demanding foreign intervention, while France condemned the violence against diplomatic institutions.

The political situation in Niger has taken a dramatic turn following a coup d'état orchestrated by officers of the Presidential Guard, who declared the democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum ousted and appointed General Abdourahmane Tchiani as the country's new ruler. This development has elicited global outrage, prompting regional bodies such as the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) and the African Union to take immediate action.

Ecowas, at a special session held in Abuja, Nigeria, on Sunday, announced the suspension of its relations with Niger in response to the military coup. Moreover, the organization authorized the use of force if President Bazoum is not reinstated within one week. Ecowas Commission President Omar Alieu Touray stated that, after the deadline, all necessary measures would be taken to restore the constitutional order in Niger, which includes the application of force. Touray further urged the defense chiefs of Ecowas member states to convene immediately.

The African Union, prior to Ecowas, had also given the military junta 15 days to reinstate the elected government. In response, the junta's spokesman warned of a potential military intervention during a national television broadcast on Saturday evening. Colonel Amadou Abdramane cautioned that the Ecowas summit aimed to prepare a military intervention in Niger, in collaboration with certain African and Western countries. He emphasized their determination to defend their homeland against foreign interference, specifically naming Ecowas and potential adventurers.

As the emergency summit was underway, thousands of coup supporters took to the streets of the capital city, Niamey, waving Russian flags. The rally, organized by the military junta, called for foreign nations to refrain from meddling in the country's affairs, while seemingly seeking support from Russia. Demonstrators chanted the name of Russian President Vladimir Putin and criticized former colonial power France. They also approached the French embassy and set fire to a door, causing black smoke to rise above the capital.

The violent attacks on diplomatic premises were condemned by France, which stated that the host country is responsible for their security. The French government issued a statement demanding the Nigerien armed forces ensure the safety of diplomatic and consular establishments, urging them to fulfill this obligation in accordance with international law.

France further announced the suspension of all financial assistance to Niger and called for an immediate return to the constitutional order under President Mohamed Bazoum, who was elected by the Nigerien people, according to a statement from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The demonstrators also demanded regional organizations that had condemned the coup to refrain from interference. Oumar Barou Moussa, a participant in the march, called on the European Union, African Union, and Ecowas to steer clear of Niger's affairs, asserting the need for Nigeriens to take care of themselves, work together, and achieve true independence. Eventually, the security forces dispersed the protesters.

Niger is one of the world's poorest countries and receives nearly $2 billion in official development assistance annually, according to the World Bank. It also serves as a security partner for former colonial power France and the United States, both of whom use the country as a base for combating Islamist insurrections in the West and Central African Sahel region.

The coup plotters claim to have removed the President, who was elected two years ago, due to his alleged failure to protect the country from escalating extremist violence. However, some observers and individuals within Niger view this as a pretext for a power grab driven by internal power struggles.

Amad Hassane Boubacar, a professor at the University of Niamey, stated that a coup in Niger was unexpected because there is no social, political, or security situation justifying a military takeover. Boubacar attributed the issues to President Bazoum's decision to dismiss General Tchiani, who had shown loyalty to Bazoum's predecessor. This dismissal sparked the problems, explained Boubacar.

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

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