By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
After the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) issued an ultimatum for Niger’s Coup Plotters to release President Mohamed Bazoum and relinquish power, two other military lead regimes pledged support to defend Niger and sustain the latest military takeover in West Africa.
Last week Wednesday 26th July 2023, Niger’s Presidential Guard detained the current democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum and his family members at his residence. Since then, the leader of the Presidential Guard, Abdourahmane Tchiani has declared himself the new leader of Niger. In reaction to this ECOWAS issued a statement on Saturday 30th July 2023 demanding for the Junta branded as “the Defence and Security Forces under the National Committee for the Salvation of the People” to relinquish power within seven days or face military action.
Just days after the ECOWAS seven-day ultimatum, a Spokesperson of the Burkina Faso Junta announced that “the transitional government of Burkina Faso and Mali have expressed; 1. Their fraternal solidarity of the people of Mali and Burkina Faso and their brothers in Niger who have decided of their own accord to take their destiny in hand and to assume their sovereignty. 2. Denounce the persistence of the regional organisations to apply sanctions that aggravate the suffering of the population and imperil the spirit of Pan-Africanism. 3. Refuse to apply these illegal, illegitimate and inhumane sanctions against the Nigerien people and authorities. 4. Warn that any military intervention against Niger will be considered as a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali”.
In an effort to emphasise the statement the Military Spokesperson stressed “I repeat, 4. Warn that any military intervention against Niger will be considered as a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali”.
West Africa has been peppered with military coups over the years resulting in the suspension of Guinea Conakry, Mali and Burkina Faso from the ECOWAS regional block. Mali was taken over by military forces led by Colonel Assimi Goita after they forced the resignation of interim President Bah Ndaw back in May 2021. Months after, Guinea Conakry was seized by Special Forces Commander Mamady Doumbouya after they detained President Alpha Conde in September 2021. Since January 2022 Burkina Faso has been under military rule with Captain Ibrahim Traore gaining significant attention after speeches at a recent Africa-Russia roundtable discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It’s not clear if Guinea Conakry has pledged support to Niger’s coup plotters, but it’s anticipated that they may also support Niger coup plotters to consolidate their hold on power. Most of the aforementioned coup leaders have been sworn in as interim president without any elections.
The ECOWAS map shows that Niger is bordered by Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Nigeria. Other countries bordering Niger outside ECOWAS include Algeria, Libya and Chad. Chad’s President has taken a keen interest in the coup and held a meeting with the Coup Plotters earlier this week after he flew into Nigeria for a bilateral meeting with Nigeria. Some reports claim that the Chad President forwarded the ECOWAS ultimatum to Niger’s Coup Leaders who have condemned the move, claiming that “the objective of [the ECOWAS] meeting is to agree a plan of aggression against Niger through an imminent military intervention in Niamey in collaboration with African Nations, non-members of the organisation and certain Western Countries”.
After the coup took place, a Russian Mercenary group named the Wagner Group released a statement in support of the Niger coup. The Wagner Group are a Russian Mercenary group who have been accused of staging a mutiny in Russia’s war in Ukraine. The group is known to have provided protection to the authorities in the Central Africa Republic and also has a presence in Mali, Sudan and Libya. CNN has reported that Niger Coup Leader Salifou Mody met Mali’s transitional president Assimi Goita on Wednesday 2nd August 2023.
Nigeria is one of seven countries bordering land-locked Niger. Out of the seven countries Algeria, Libya and Chad are not ECOWAS countries but may decide to enforce the ECOWAS sanctions. Meanwhile, Benin and Nigeria in particular seem to be the only country which will proactively enforce the sanction after newly elected Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s uncompromising stance against coups in West Africa. President Tinubu is also the Chairman of ECOWAS.
The seven days ultimatum is expected to conclude by the end of Sunday 6th August 2023. Niger’s overthrown President Bazoum is currently under detention by the Military Junta. Meanwhile, the Junta are actively building allies to pave the way for the formalisation of its Coup Leader as interim President. It’s left to be seen if the ECOWAS will follow through with military action against the latest Coup Plotters in West Africa.
Here is a link to our second publication on the Niger Coup.