Niger’s deposed leader has made an urgent appeal to the United States and the entire international community to assist in “restoring constitutional order” following the recent coup.
In a Washington Post opinion piece, President Mohamed Bazoum, writing “as a hostage,” expressed his concern over the unrest that has erupted in the West African state since his ousting.
The coup leaders announced the withdrawal of Niger’s ambassadors from France, the US, Nigeria, and Togo, stating on national television that the functions of the four ambassadors had been “terminated.”
Niger’s strategic significance as a major uranium producer, vital for nuclear power, and its location on a key migration route to North Africa and the Mediterranean have added complexity to the unfolding situation.
In his newspaper article, Mr. Bazoum warned the coup, if it succeeded, would have “devastating consequences for our country, our region, and the entire world”.
“Fighting for our shared values, including democratic pluralism and respect for the rule of law, is the only way to make sustainable progress against poverty and terrorism,” Mr Bazoum wrote.
“The Nigerien people will never forget your support at this pivotal moment in our history.”
President Bazoum also raised concerns about the coup leaders’ ties to the Russian mercenary group Wagner, which operates in the region and has been perceived as wielding a malign influence in Niger.
The potential for the central Sahel region to fall under Russian influence through Wagner’s activities, akin to their brutal terrorism in Ukraine, has raised alarms.
Supporters of the coup in Niger have shown pro-Russian sentiments, even adopting the colors of the Russian flag during demonstrations.
While thousands of people took to the streets of Niger’s capital, Niamey, in a peaceful show of support for the coup, other West African countries have imposed financial and trade sanctions on Niger.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent phone conversation with Mr. Bazoum reinforced the US commitment to restoring Niger’s democratically elected government.
President Bazoum, the first democratically elected leader to succeed another in Niger, was detained by his own guards during the coup. Meanwhile, coup leader Gen Abdourahmane Tchiani has taken up the mantle of head of state.
In light of the recent coup in Niger and the subsequent detention of President Bazoum, you can refer to our comprehensive report on State Department Orders US Embassy Evacuation In Niger Post-Coup.
Niger’s Leadership Shift Amidst Coup Turmoil and Regional Challenges
As a key player in the Sahel region plagued by jihadists and military regimes, Niger’s stability has been held as an example in recent years, contrasting the coup-stricken Mali and Burkina Faso.
Hosting French and US military bases, Niger’s role as a crucial partner in the fight against Islamist insurgents further amplifies the international attention on the unfolding events.
President Bazoum’s government had actively cooperated with European countries in tackling migrant flows across the Mediterranean, agreeing to the repatriation of hundreds of migrants from Libyan detention centers. Additionally, efforts to crack down on human trafficking have been evident.
As the situation continues to evolve, the world watches closely, and the international community grapples with how best to assist Niger in restoring democratic governance and stability during this critical juncture. The nation’s trajectory holds profound implications for the broader regional landscape impacted by security challenges and migration issues.