The entire West African region remains very much on edge as the seven-day deadline given to Niger’s new military leaders to put an end to their coup, release country’s President Mohamed Bazoum, all the members of his government, and allow an immediate return to constitutional and democratic order, ends Sunday.
The Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) – a regional economic bloc of 15 countries which has been making frantic efforts to resolve the ongoing impasse – had assigned the deadline after a meeting of the bloc’s heads of state and government in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja on July 30.
ECOWAS made it clear that in the event its demands are not met by Sunday, the grouping will take all measures necessary to restore democracy in Niger with measures that may include “the use of force”.
Nigeria planning to deploy Nigerian NYSC Corps members to fight Niger, Algeria , Burkina Faso, Mali, etc in ECOWAS planned war
Nigerian Army said that Nigerian NYSC Corps are Reserved for serious War hence planning to deploy them to war front as part of ECOWAS soldiers.… pic.twitter.com/oWmElGRZW3
— Chinasa Nworu (@ChinasaNworu) August 3, 2023
A lot has happened already in the region after Bazoum was ousted in a military coup led by General Abdourahamane Tchiani, the commander of the country’s presidential guard, on July 26 in fresh trouble for the terror-infested Sahel region.
Making it clear that democratically-elected Bazoum is the only President of Niger, France – a country that ruled the landlocked country until 1960 and still retained a significant influence in the uranium-rich territory – has said that it does not recognise the authorities resulting from the coup led by General Tchiani.
As massive street protests and violence gripped Niger’s capital Niamey, France and several other countries have evacuated their citizens from the West African nation.
On Saturday, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna met Niger Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou – who was on a foreign trip at the time of the coup back home – in Paris to reaffirm France’s full support for Bazoum, the “only legitimate authorities” in Niger.
“France supports with firmness and determination the efforts of ECOWAS to defeat this putsch attempt. The future of Niger and the stability of the entire region are at stake,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement after the meeting.
Niger holds large reserves of uranium with as many as 30 French companies active in the country covering all economic sectors, particularly in services, distribution and in the mining sector.
ECOWAS has militarily intervened in:
1. Liberia in 1990
2. Sierra Leone in 1997
3. Guinea Bissau in 1999
4. Côte d’Ivoire in 2003
5. Liberia in 2003
6. Mali in 2013
7. The Gambia in 2017
All the interventions were successful, and democracy restored.
Niger 🇳🇪 won’t be different!… pic.twitter.com/REZ9pdHOjw
— CBN Gov Akinsola Akin🇳🇬 (@cbngov_akin1) August 4, 2023
The Tchiani-led group has denounced all military agreements with France and also stated that they will stop exporting uranium and gold to the country.
However, Paris has maintained that the legal framework for its cooperation with Niger in the area of defence is based on agreements that have been concluded with the legitimate Niger authorities.
“These are the only ones that France, like the entire international community, recognizes,” said French Foreign Ministry.
Nigerian Senator Shehu Sani is protesting, on behalf of a group of northern Nigerian governors, the plan to invade Niger.
Sani points out that seven Nigerian states border Niger and would undoubtedly suffer from the war. pic.twitter.com/3D6v3ssMXD
— Sprinter (@Sprinter99800) August 5, 2023
Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is also the Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, had dispatched a high-level delegation to Niger’s capital Niamey on Thursday.
However, the touring party left Niger a few hours after they landed in Niamey without meeting the coup leader or the deposed President of the country.
The situation is only expected to get more tense in the coming days as neighbouring Burkina Faso and Mali, which have faced suspension from the regional economic bloc following similar military takeovers, have warned that any military intervention against Niger would be tantamount to a declaration of war against them as well.
Ghanaian Opposition leader kicks against ECOWAS leaders’ planned military intervention in Niger, says “a democracy that fails to deliver what the people want, is useless, needless”_ pic.twitter.com/IYAYlBoSY0
— Jibrin Samuel Okutepa SAN (@jibrinSAN) August 5, 2023
At the same time, the coup leaders in Niger have warned ECOWAS of immediate retaliation in the event of any planned “aggression or attempted aggression”.
🇹🇩🇳🇪Chad said the country would not send troops to Niger
“No, Chad will not intervene militarily in Niger for a number of reasons,” Chadian Defense Minister Daoud Yaya Brahim said.
Earlier, the Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS) announced the development of a… pic.twitter.com/9twh1nJh0u
— DD Geopolitics (@DD_Geopolitics) August 5, 2023