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Sun, Jul 30, 2023 2:50 PM

West African Leaders to Assess Niger Coup, Possible Sanctions

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West African Leaders to Assess Niger Coup, Possible Sanctions
West African leaders are set to hold a special summit in Abuja, Nigeria, to assess the situation in Niger after the military coup in the country. The possibility of imposing sanctions, following France and the European Union's decision, is increasing pressure on the new strongman, General Abdul Rahman Tiani, who is believed to be behind the four-day detention of Mohamed Bazoum.

Abuja, Nigeria - West African leaders are set to hold a special summit in Abuja on Sunday to assess the situation in Niger following the military coup in the country, with the possibility of imposing sanctions, as has been decided by France and the European Union.

The pressure is mounting on the newly-appointed strongman in Niger, General Abdul Rahman Tiani, who is behind the fall of Mohamed Bazoum, who has been detained for four days.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which comprises 15 countries, may announce sanctions against Niger, a member of the organization, following in the footsteps of France and the European Union, which have decided to suspend budgetary and security assistance, while not recognizing the "authorities" resulting from the coup.

Nigeria's President, Buhari, who chaired ECOWAS, condemned the coup on Wednesday and promised that the community and the international community "will make every effort to defend and root democracy" in the region.

French development aid to Niger amounted to 120 million euros in 2022. It was expected to be slightly higher in 2023, but it will not be sent to the country, according to the French Foreign Ministry.

The African Union has given the coup plotters 15 days "to restore constitutional authority."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured Bazoum of Washington's "steadfast" support, emphasizing that the coup threatens "the partnership between the United States and Niger."

Blinken spoke on Sunday to Tinubu, expressing his "deep concern" and commending the efforts of Nigeria's President "to restore constitutional order in Niger," according to U.S. State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller.

Niger is located in the heart of the Sahel region and is one of the poorest countries in the world. This country has vast desert areas and experiences one of the highest population growth rates in the world.

Paris' ally

Niamey is the last ally with which Paris establishes a "combat partnership" against jihadists in this region, which is plagued by instability and attacks.

France currently deploys around 1,500 military personnel who have been working jointly with the Nigerien army.

The civil movement "AME26," which previously demonstrated against the French military operation in the Sahel and the Sahara, called for demonstrations on Sunday, despite the ban on gatherings.

General Tiani, who was chosen by the military as the country's leader, justified the coup on Wednesday by citing the "deteriorating security situation."

While "appreciating" the support of the Nigerien partners "from abroad," including France and the United States, which also has 1,100 soldiers deployed, he asked them to have "confidence in the defense and security forces" under his command.

Niamey's Western partners strongly condemned the coup, as did several African countries and the United Nations, while calling for the release of Mohamed Bazoum.

Bazoum's supporters condemned the coup as "serving personal interests," confirming that the President is "in a very good condition" despite being in detention.

Critical setback

In Nairobi, Kenya's President, William Ruto, saw this coup as a "critical setback for Africa's democratic progress."

Ibrahim Yacouba, the Energy Minister in the overthrown President's government, called on ECOWAS and the African Union to work towards "immediately releasing" Bazoum and reinstating him in his duties.

The history of Niger, rich in uranium, has been marked by coups since the former French colony gained independence in 1960. The region is also known for its instability, as Niger is the third country to experience a coup since 2020, following Mali and Burkina Faso.

Days before Independence Day on August 3rd, relative calm descended on the streets of Niamey on Saturday after demonstrations in support of the coup were banned.

The population resumed their usual activities, but there was an increased presence of defense and security forces in the streets, according to one AFP journalist.

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

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