By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
Currently held hostage by his Presidential Guards, Niger President Mohamed Bazoum has issued a publication in the Washington Post calling for help to “restore constitutional order” and defended his track record against “an autocratic junta with no vision or reliable allies”. Meanwhile, Niger coup leaders have been travelling to other military-led regimes in West Africa to win over support to push back the imminent threat of an invasion from the West African Regional Block.
Days after the two West African military regimes of Burkina Faso and Mali pledged to support Niger’s coup plotters resist military action from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Guinea Conakry, is the latest country to pledge support to Niger’s Coup Plotters. A spokesperson of Guinea’s National Committee of Reconciliation and Development (CNRD), Col. Aminata Diallo announced that “sanctions advanced by ECOWAS, including military intervention, are not options that can be a solution to the current problem, but would lead to a human disaster whose consequences could extend far beyond Niger’s border”.
As expected, Guinea’s Junta spokesperson highlighted their refusal to enforce the ECOWAS sanctions which they labelled as “illegitimate and inhumane sanctions against the fraternal people of Niger and the Nigerien authorities and urges ECOWAS to come to its senses”. Col. Diallo claims that “a military intervention against Niger would be the de facto dismantling of ECOWAS”. In their view, ECOWAS Leaders should be more concerned about the “human tragedy in Tunisia and the Mediterranean” and “strategic socio-economic” challenges instead of “the fate of deposed Presidents”.
Niger celebrated its independence from France just two days ago which coup plotters took advantage of, rebranding it as the day of true independence from the French. Numerous Nigeriens supporting the coup continue to wave the Russian flag as a symbol of anti-West sentiments which erupted when protestors attacked the French embassy. Hundreds of European citizens have since been evacuated from Niger after ECOWAS threatened to use military force to free Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum and reinstate constitutional order in Niger.
President Bazoum Calls for Help to Restore Constitutional Order
Niger’s President Bazoum published an opinion piece in the Washington Post three days ago while still a hostage of the Niger Junta which he says “has no justification whatsoever” for the coup. In his view, the coup “will have devastating consequences for [Niger], our region and the entire world”.
Accusing the coup plotter of disinformation, President Bazoum says “coup plotters falsely claim that they acted to protect Niger’s security. They allege that our war against jihadist terrorists is failing and that my economic and social governance, including partnerships with the United States and Europe, has hurt our country”. Arguing against this, President Bazoum says the reality is that “Niger’s security situation has improved dramatically — facilitated by the very partnerships the junta opposes. Foreign aid makes up 40 per cent of our national budget, but it will not be delivered if the coup succeeds”.
Taking a shot at Burkina Faso and Mali who pledged support for Niger’s coup leaders, President Bazoum enthused that his country’s “security situation is significantly better than that of our neighbours Mali and Burkina Faso, whose governments, both installed by military takeovers, support the illegal coup”. According to President Bazoum instead of Mali and Burkina Faso “addressing security concerns by strengthening their own capacity, they employ criminal Russian mercenaries such as the Wagner Group at the expense of their people’s rights and dignity”.
On the economic front, President Bazoum claims that his country improved under his leadership “after a slow recovery from covid-19 in 2021”. He cited Niger’s per capita growth rate which he says “more than tripled to 7.4 per cent last year”. He lauded his government’s ability to ensure “2022 was Niger’s first year without a single school day lost to strikes from teachers or students”.
Speaking on the impact of the ECOWAS “ban on exports and imports of oil, and a suspension of cross-border financial transactions,” President Bazoum says that “the price of rice rose by 40 per cent between Sunday and Tuesday, and some neighbourhoods have begun to report shortages of goods and electricity”.
In addition to this, neighbours Nigeria, a leading force in ECOWAS, has halted its electricity supply to Niger which receives around 70% of its electricity supply from Nigeria. The hostage President believes that “Niger stands as the last bastion of respect for human rights amid the authoritarian movements that have overtaken some of our neighbours. While this coup attempt is a tragedy for Nigeriens, its success would have devastating consequences far beyond our borders”.
It’s understood that Niger had over 1,000 French security officers addressing the rising extremist threat in their region. However, the Junta has dismissed its military agreements with France which will leave a vacuum for other forces to occupy and allow extremists to make progress in Niger. Russia’s influence amongst military-led regimes has been on the increase with the recently concluded Russia-Africa summit and the presence of Russian Mercenary forces in the Central Africa Republic and Mali to name a few.
President Bazoum referred to the threat this poses when he highlighted that “the entire central Sahel region could fall to Russian influence via the Wagner Group, whose brutal terrorism has been on full display in Ukraine. Boko Haram and other terrorist movements will surely take advantage of Niger’s instability, using our country as a staging ground to attack neighbouring countries and undermine peace, safety and freedom around the world”.
He concluded with a plea to the United States and the international community.
“In our hour of need, I call on the U.S. government and the entire international community to help us restore our constitutional order. 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. The Nigerien people will never forget your support at this pivotal moment in our history”.
ECOWAS’ seven-day ultimatum for Niger coup plotters to reinstate President Bazoum should expire by the end of Sunday 6th August 2023. The US, EU and many other Western countries have welcomed ECOWAS military action against Niger’s coup leaders which could spark real division between democratically led governments and military-led governments in West Africa and the African continent.
Here is a link to our third report on the Niger coup.