- Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum was deposed from office after a coup on 26 July 2023
- The President was arrested by the Military Junta responsible for the Coup
- ECOWAS has given the Military Junta a deadline to reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum or face an attack
- Niger’s Military Junta has reached out to support from the Russian mercenary group Wagner as the deadline approaches
As the deadline set by the regional bloc ECOWAS approaches for Niger’s military junta to release the ousted President Mohamed Bazoum and reinstate him, the junta has reached out for assistance from the Russian mercenary group Wagner. General Salifou Mody, one of the leaders of the coup, made the request during a visit to neighboring Mali.
The situation in Niger has led to demonstrations, with some expressing support for the coup, while others are against it. The international community has increased pressure on the junta to abide by ECOWAS’s deadline.
President Bazoum has described himself as a hostage, and his release and reinstatement are crucial demands from the regional bloc.
Niger has been a significant ally in the West’s counterterrorism efforts in a region where coups have been frequent in recent years. As tensions rise, foreign nationals have been evacuating the country, mainly through French military aircraft.
Notably, the junta has turned away from its former colonizer, France, and sought support from Russia’s Wagner, which already operates in several African countries, including Mali. The implications of Wagner’s involvement in Niger remain uncertain, and the international community closely monitors the situation.
Inside Niger, the population faces challenges due to travel and economic sanctions imposed by ECOWAS after the coup. The closure of land and air borders with ECOWAS countries and the suspension of commercial and financial transactions have led to rising prices of goods and limited access to cash, affecting daily life and livelihoods.
ECOWAS Increases Pressure on Niger Coup Leaders
West African military chiefs have announced a plan for a potential military intervention in Niger if the coup leaders do not step down. This development follows France’s rejection of the Niger junta’s move to cancel bilateral military agreements, emphasizing that only Niger’s “legitimate” leadership has the authority to do so.
The situation escalated further when an ECOWAS delegation left Niamey, the capital of Niger, without meeting coup leader Abdourahamane Tiani.
In response to concerns about neighboring Chad’s potential intervention, Chad’s defense minister clarified on state television that Chad will not interfere in Niger’s coup.
Meanwhile, West African defense chiefs have crafted a plan for a possible military intervention in Niger, should the coup leaders fail to relinquish power. Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, explained that all aspects of the intervention, including necessary resources and deployment strategies, have been mapped out. The timing and location of the potential strike will be decided by the heads of state and not disclosed to the coup plotters.
As the situation unfolds, Benin’s foreign minister called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Niger. While pledging full support for ECOWAS’ efforts to resolve the crisis, Benin adheres to ECOWAS’s stance of freeing and reinstating President Bazoum. However, he acknowledged that Benin may align with whatever action ECOWAS decides to take as a member state.
ECOWAS, chaired by Nigeria, has imposed stringent sanctions on Niger while sending a delegation to meet junta representatives. The regional bloc has given the military rulers until Sunday to reinstate President Bazoum; otherwise, it has warned of potential intervention. The situation remains tense as the region seeks a resolution to the coup.