Africa: Conflict and governance Niger 2023-

Written by  //  October 30, 2023  //  Africa, Government & Governance  //  Comments Off on Africa: Conflict and governance Niger 2023-

US to evict Gabon, Niger, Uganda and Central African Republic from trade program
(Reuters) [President Biden] also cited Niger’s…failure to establish or make continual progress toward the protection of political pluralism and the rule of law.

27 August
Russia uses social media channels to exploit Niger coup
Moscow aiming to increase influence in Africa, winning lucrative contracts and gaining access to key resources
(The Guardian) Social media channels associated with the Russian state have launched a major effort to exploit last month’s military coup in Niger, seeking to reinforce Moscow’s influence in the country and possibly open opportunities for intervention.
Mohamed Bazoum, the pro-western elected president, was ousted by senior army officers on 26 July and is being held prisoner in his official residence in Niamey. African leaders have threatened military action to oust the new regime but advocates of intervention have so far been unable to rally sufficient support.
Activity focusing on Niger on channels linked to the paramilitary Wagner group declined sharply after the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, Wagner’s leader, in a plane crash north of Moscow last week, expert analysis has revealed.
But pro-Russian Telegram channels more broadly have continued to discuss or push disinformation about Niger at generally the same levels as before Prigozhin’s death, according to research by Logically, a technology company tackling potentially harmful online content and disinformation based in the UK, India and US.

17 August
West African bloc says ‘we are going into Niger’ if all else fails
Maxwell Akalaare Adombila
(Reuters) The West African bloc ECOWAS stands ready to intervene militarily in Niger should diplomatic efforts to reverse a coup there fail, a senior official told army chiefs who were meeting in Ghana on Thursday to discuss the details of a standby force.
Niger military officers deposed President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26 and have defied calls from the United Nations, ECOWAS and Western powers to reinstate him, prompting West African heads of state to order the standby force to be assembled.
Niger has strategic importance beyond West Africa because of its role as a hub for foreign troops involved in the fight against Islamist insurgents in the Sahel region and its uranium and oil reserves.
Western countries fear the junta could follow the lead of neighbouring Mali, where the military government threw out French troops and instead invited in mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner group, which has welcomed the coup in Niger.

The coup in Niger is a boon for Africa’s jihadist militias
Robert Rotberg, founding director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s program on intrastate conflict and president emeritus of the World Peace Foundation. His latest book is Overcoming the Oppressors.
(Globe & Mail) A military coup has extinguished one of West Africa’s most democratically inclined governments – and the results are a tragedy for Niger’s 25 million people. The coup is also worrisome for the entire region, as it could result in increased Islamist penetration, giving running room and conquest potential to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. Both jihadist militias are anxious to add Niger to their growing territorial annexations across the African Sahel.
The Sahel is a belt of light soil and sparse rainfall south of the Sahara Desert, stretching across the continent, from Senegal to Eritrea. Beginning in about 2011, after the ending of Moammar Gadhafi’s dictatorship in Libya, the availability of leftover Libyan arms helped two of the globe’s most successful Islamist franchises to commandeer the jihadist space and establish themselves in the Sahel.
jihadist militias
…the new leaders in Niger are likely to turn – as their erstwhile counterparts in Mali and Burkina Faso have done – to the Russian Wagner Group to boost their military capabilities or gain protection, even though the Wagnerites have failed lamentably at halting the spread of Islamist fundamentalism. Jihadists now control much more territory across the Sahel than they did when French troops protected Mali and Burkina Faso.
Furthermore, the Wagnerites are in Africa not to do peace enforcement but to loot. They are taking gold from Mali, Central African Republic and Sudan. Exactly what payoffs the putschists in Mali and Burkina Faso receive from the Wagnerites is not known, but soldiers create no mutinies without hope of being rewarded.

12-16 August
Niger coup backers call for mass mobilisation amid military threat from regional bloc
As Ecowas chiefs prepare to meet to discuss possible action against junta, civic group says ‘we need to be ready
Supporters of the Nigerien junta are calling for the mass mobilisation of citizens against the threat of military action by a west African regional bloc that is calling for the restoration of the country’s deposed president, Mohamed Bazoum.
With a delayed meeting of military chiefs of staff of the Ecowas bloc scheduled to take place later this week, regional tensions over the July coup against Bazoum appeared to be deepening, despite the junta’s efforts to suggest they were open to talks.
Following the expiry of an Ecowas ultimatum after the coup against Bazoum, led by members of his presidential guard, the group activated a “standby force” to restore democracy in Niger but has yet to deploy it.
Putin urges ‘peaceful resolution’ as Mali and Russia discuss Niger
The Kremlin said Mali’s leader initiated the call to President Putin about the situation in Niger, which remains unresolved.
Niger junta says it will prosecute deposed president for ‘high treason’
Mohamed Bazoum – ousted by military last month – could face death penalty if found guilty

West African bloc scraps crisis meeting on Niger coup
As ECOWAS leaders fail to meet, concerns over the deteriorating health of deposed President Bazoum mount.
US warns of ‘deteriorating conditions’ for Niger’s ousted President Bazoum
Media reports have emerged that the Nigerien president and his family are surviving on rice and pasta without electricity.

1-11 August
Niger coup: Russia warns Ecowas not to take military action
(BBC) Russia has warned that military intervention in Niger would lead to a “protracted confrontation” after regional bloc Ecowas said it would assemble a standby force.
Such an intervention would destabilise the Sahel region as a whole, the Russian foreign ministry said.
Did the Niger coup just succeed? And other questions answered about what’s next in the Sahel
By Atlantic Council experts
1. Why has ECOWAS backed away from its ultimatum?
2. Did the coup in Niger just succeed?
3. What is at stake for France and the European Union?
4. Should the United States now get more involved?
5. Have Burkina Faso and Mali come out stronger by supporting the coup?
6. What does this reveal about Nigeria’s regional leadership?
ECOWAS’s failure to effect any change will be a blow to its influence. There will be important ramifications in terms of ECOWAS’s relations with Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali, which all have juntas that ECOWAS has been pushing to transition to civilian rule. ECOWAS has forced them to accept “transition timetables” for holding elections and has been trying to push these juntas to comply. ECOWAS’s ability to do so is much reduced by this affair.
Tensions rise as West African nations prepare to send troops to restore democracy in Niger
(AP) — Tensions are escalating between Niger’s new military regime and the West African regional bloc that has ordered the deployment of troops to restore Niger’s flailing democracy. The ECOWAS bloc said on Thursday it had decided to deploy a “standby force” aimed at restoring constitutional order in Niger after its Sunday deadline to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum expired.

8 August
Hopes for Dialogue Dim in Niger as Junta Clings to Power
(NYT) A leader of the coup in Niger who had been considered a close U.S. ally rejected a request from a visiting U.S. diplomat to release the country’s democratically elected president and bring back constitutional order.
Niger’s junta rejects a diplomatic visit by regional and UN officials over ‘atmosphere of menace’
(AP) — Niger’s military junta has refused the latest diplomatic attempt to reinstall the ousted president, rejecting a proposed visit by representatives of the West African regional bloc, the African Union and United Nations on Tuesday
West African leaders to meet after Niger junta defies deadline
Ecowas to hold talks on Thursday as west African country ignores demands to reinstate ousted president

The Coup in Niger Is About Power. Russia Will Exploit It.
The most exciting explanations for Niger’s upheaval are globe-sweeping and probably wrong.
By Brian Klaas
(The Atlantic) The impetus behind the coup is very likely complex, nuanced, and less about the Kremlin than about domestic dynamics. … The incumbent president, Mohamed Bazoum, had been planning to fire a general, Abdourahamane Tchiani, who commanded the elite presidential guard. Now that the coup has happened, General Tchiani isn’t going to be fired. Instead, he has proclaimed himself the head of the new military junta. …
Niger’s coup may not have originated in great-power competition so much as in politics and other dynamics nearer at hand—but it could still have serious international repercussions. The security situation in the Sahel is deteriorating as jihadism rises. The junta governments that have taken power in the past three years have proved unable to combat it. Moreover, although many of the new military regimes—notably in Mali and Burkina Faso—have allied themselves with Russia, the Russian government and the Wagner Group are not exactly flush with spare cash or bursting with well-trained troops waiting to deploy to Africa, bogged down as they are by their debacle in Ukraine. In the coming months, the postcoup regimes in the Sahel are likely to realize that they’ve swapped Western partners, which had deep pockets and a long-term commitment to supplying foreign aid, for a diminished Kremlin that will inevitably overpromise and under-deliver. The money will eventually run out.

Update from GZERO media
Niger deadline passes
The Economic Community of West African States threatened to intervene militarily if Niger’s coup leaders didn’t restore the country’s democratically elected leader, President Mohamed Bazoum, by Sunday night. That deadline has now passed without any sign of a military response, but junta leaders have closed Niger’s airspace, claiming that two Central African nations are preparing for military intervention.
Meanwhile, thousands of supporters of the junta, which now calls itself the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland, filled a 30,000-seat stadium in the capital Niamey. They cheered and carried Russian flags and portraits of junta militants, including self-appointed leader General Abdourahmane Tchiani.
Neighboring Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali – notably suspended from ECOWAS owing to recent coups in their countries – side with the new regime, and Burkina Faso and Mali have threatened to respond if Niger is attacked by the bloc.
ECOWAS members, led by Nigeria, support the return of Bazoum but appear unwilling to use military might. On Saturday, the Nigerian Senate rejected a request by President Bola Tinubu to send troops to Niger and called instead for a political solution. Some are also concerned that military intervention would pull the Wagner Group – already entrenched in Mali and Burkina Faso – into the fray. Non-ECOWAS nations Chad and Algeria also oppose military intervention.
For his part, Bazoum has not given up. In an op-ed for the Washington Post, he asked for help from the international community. France has pledged its support for ECOWAS military intervention, and the US has agreed to keep up diplomatic pressure, but we’ll be watching to see how far ECOWAS is willing to go to deliver on its threat.

What Niger’s coup means for West Africa’s geopolitical contest
By Rama Yade
(Atlantic Council) Over the past week, Africans and their Western partners have seemed surprised by the events in Niger. Many in France are shocked, having not seen it coming. … In Africa too, the ongoing coup in Niger seems to trigger a harder reaction than the previous ones in Mali and Burkina Faso. After earlier sending Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Déby to Niger to lead mediation talks, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)—under Nigerian President Bola Tinubu’s leadership—threatened to use force if the coup leaders don’t reinstate Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum by August 6, and announced new sanctions, harder than those used for other junta-led Sahelian countries. That is predicted to deal a blow to Niger, a country that depends on external aid. This unusual firm answer can be explained by several reasons:
First, there is a strong fear that the region may collapse now that the G5 Sahel—a regional group of countries promoting development and security—is led by four juntas. Among the five members, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, and Chad have recently experienced an undemocratic transition; Mauritania remains. Niger is the fifth country in West Africa to experience a coup d’état over the past three years.
Second, despite numerous African Union and ECOWAS sanctions over the past few years, the regional coup leaders seem to taunt the African organizations for whom this recent coup in Niger is an ultimate test of credibility.
Third, Nigeria—which chairs ECOWAS and shares a one-thousand-mile border with Niger—needs a win in this moment, as Tinubu just assumed presidential office a little over two months ago.
Is Russia involved in Niger coup through Wagner Group? Here’s what experts say
Devesh Kumar
(Mint) The unrest in Niger is being watched closely by the world as the junta arrests senior politicians after overthrowing the democratically elected government. The development is a setback for the Western world and its crackdown on Islamist extremism in the region. This is the seventh military coup in West and Central Africa in the last three years. Notably, the Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has celebrated the coup and blamed the situation in Niger on the legacy of colonialism, as per CNN.
Niger crisis deepens as European nations evacuate and coup leaders get support from other juntas
(AP) France, Italy and Spain all announced evacuations from Niger for their citizens and other European nationals, concerned that they risked becoming trapped by the coup that won backing Tuesday from three other West African nations also ruled by mutinous soldiers.
About 600 French nationals want to leave, along with 400 people of other nationalities from Belgians to Danish, French officials said. The first flight carried mostly French nationals, and officials hope to finish the evacuation flights by Wednesday.
The UN special envoy for West Africa and the Sahel, Leonardo Santos Simão, held out hope that bloodshed could be avoided.
He said during a virtual news conference Tuesday he expects ECOWAS to go ahead with the deployment of troops to Niger if Bazoum isn’t restored to power. But “I believe that other efforts are underway, so I hope the use of force will not be necessary,” if “everybody talks in good faith (and) wants to avoid bloodshed.”
The new junta got backing from the military governments of Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea.
Russia responsible for Niger coup, says top Ukrainian official
The Russian Wagner Group’s boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has hailed the coup as a move towards independence from the West.
(Al Jazeera) What’s driving the power struggle in Niger?
European countries to begin evacuation of citizens from coup-hit Niger
A test of wills: Can ECOWAS reverse Niger coup and establish a new order?
On Tuesday, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, said Russia was behind the shocking takeover. … “It is now absolutely clear that Russia is behind the so-called ‘military coup’ in Niger. It is a standard Russian tactic: to divert attention, seize the moment and expand the conflict.”

28 July-1 August
Timeline: A history of ECOWAS military interventions in three decades
The West African bloc has a history of successful military interventions to restore constitutional order within the region.

West African nations demand reinstatement of Niger president after coup
Bloc issues ultimatum authorising potential use of force if Mohamed Bazoum is not released within week
(The Guardian) A powerful bloc of west African states has suspended ties with Niger after a coup there and authorised the possible use of force if the country’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, is not released and reinstated within a week.
The ultimatum was delivered by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) as France warned that any attacks on French citizens or its interests in Niger – a former colony – would provoke an “immediate and stringent” reaction. France’s embassy in Niamey, Niger’s capital, was targeted during pro-junta and pro-Russia protests on Sunday.
Thousands of protesters marched through the streets of the city waving Russian flags, chanting the name of Vladimir Putin and forcefully denouncing France.
Ecowas, which met in Nigeria to discuss the crisis on Sunday, also threatened to suspend all commercial and financial transactions between Niger and the organisation’s 15 member states, and to freeze the country’s assets in the bloc’s central banks.
Ecowas and the eight-member West African Economic and Monetary Union are focused on finding ways to restore Bazoum, who was deposed by Gen Abdourahamane Tchiani, the head of Niger’s presidential guard. Tchiani, who led the coup on Wednesday, was declared head of state two days later.
Prigozhin celebrates Niger coup, says his Wagner group can help
(CNN) While the international community, including many African states, have condemned the coup in Niger, Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin has his own take.
In a long message posted to social media, Prigozhin blamed the situation in Niger on the legacy of colonialism and alleged, without evidence, that Western nations were sponsoring terrorist groups in the country. Niger was once a French colony and, before this week’s putsch, it had been one of the few democracies in the region.
Despite anti-coup rhetoric, can the West exit Niger, its latest Sahel hub?
As the international community condemns the unfolding coup in Niger, analysts say the West still needs a presence there for an eye on the Sahel.
(Al Jazeera) … US, French and other European troops have a large footprint in the country for their regional “counterinsurgency” operations – one they’ll be loathe to give up, even if it means playing nice with the military-led government, analysts say.
Across Niger’s south, along the borders with Nigeria and Chad, the military is up against armed bandits and Boko Haram fighters who pose deadly risks for Nigeriens as well as the refugees they send spilling into the country. And in the country’s west, armed groups linked to ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda roam the deadly tri-border area shared with Mali and Burkina Faso, part of the long-running conflict in those three countries.
The Coup in Niger
Niger is in a tough neighborhood.
(Global Dispatches) To the west, Mali and Burkina Faso each experienced two coups in nine months. Chad, to the east, saw its most recent past president die in battle, only to be replaced by his son. And to Niger’s south is the very region of Nigeria where the government is fighting a long running counter-insurgency against Boko Haram.
Niger is also landlocked and one of the most climate-change vulnerable countries on the planet. On top of it all, a witches-brew of Islamist insurgencies, including Boko Haram and Islamic State splinter groups, are raging on the country’s peripheries and routinely target state security forces and civilians alike. For all these reasons and more, Niger ranks third-to-last on the UN’s Human Development Index — ahead of only Chad and South Sudan.
But against these odds, Niger was on a turnaround. It had achieved a degree of political stability in recent years. For the first time since 1960 one democratically elected president was replaced by a second democratically elected president when Mohamed Bazoum took office in 2021.
Alas, on Wednesday, that streak ended.

Comments are closed.