A military junta overthrew the democratically elected government presided by President Mohamed Bazoum on the 26th of July, 2023 in Niger. The junta led by General Abdourahamane Tchiani also known as General Omar Tchiani has since caused numerous agitations.
Two days after ceasing power, General Omar Tchiani declared himself president of Niger. The junta has paraded themselves as the “National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland” of which by de facto, the 62year old General Omar Tchiani is the leader. General Omar Tchiani until the coup was the Chief of the Nigerien Presidential Guard, a position he held from 2011.
Niger is known for its Uranium export alongside other African countries like Namibia and South Africa. Globally Niger produces 5% of the world’s consumption of Uranium. Uranium is used for nuclear defence system, nuclear generation of electricity as well as nuclear medicine and x-ray machines. According to Trading Economics; other major exports of Niger includes Gold, Onions, Beans and Cattle.
Niger is bordered by Algeria to the north, Libya to the northeast, Chad to the east, Nigeria on the south, Benin to the southwest and Burkina Faso to the west. By virtue of Niger’s location on the African map, Niger is aligned to the West of Africa. Therefore, Niger a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
ECOWAS comprises of 15 member states or countries which are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. Eight of them speak French as their official language, five speak English as their official language and two have Portuguese as their official language.
In recent times, there has been a growing political instability in the sub-region of West Africa especially among the French speaking countries in the form of coup d’état. It started with Guinea in September 2021, then Mali in May 2022, and Burkina Faso in September 2022. The recent and intriguing of all is the July 2023 coup in Niger.
Coup d’état is never a good practice for any country due to it numerous negative repercussion like retarding economic growth of the country, jeopardising international relations of a country, has the tendency of causing war which eventually leads to loss of lives and properties. Now ECOWAS is currently chaired by the president of Nigeria; His Excellency Bola Tinubu a position he holds barely two months.
It is worth noting that President Tinubu during his inaugural speech as ECOWAS chair charged member states on the need to cling more to democracy and vowed to fight against coup. “We must stand firm on democracy. There is no governance, freedom and rule of law without democracy. We will not accept coup after coup in West Africa again. Democracy is very difficult to manage but it is the best form of government” saidPresident Tinubu. Few weeks after he gave the sterning speech, a coup happened in Niger.
Since then, ECOWAS has held series of emergency meetings on ways to resolve the coup, restore democracy in Niger and reinstate the ousted President Mohamed Bazoum who is currently under “House Arrest”.
ECOWAS, France, USA, European Union as well some international governmental organizations like the United Nations have all condemned the junta and placed numerous sanctions and embargo on Niger. All these sanctions come as a result of failed bilateral talks between the junta and other parties of interests.
ECOWAS has agreed to form a standby army of 25,000 troops to oppose the General Omar led junta. ECOWAS currently has support from USA and France to use military intevention. However, as at 15th of August, 2023, five ECOWAS countries thus, Cape Verde, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo have refused to join the use of military to restore democracy in Niger.
Niger on the other hand has support from Mali and Burkina Faso as well as pro-Russian military group PMC Wagner. Nonetheless, citizens of Niger seem to be content with the junta managing the affairs of country.
There are reports of growing citizen’s vigilante forces in Niger to complement the army. The General Omar junta has also cautioned ECOWAS of intervening with military since it will leave them with little or no choice than to execute the ousted President Mohamed Bazoum and his family.
Niger has since the eruption of the coup built stronger alliance with Russia, Burkina Faso and Mali. Many citizens of Niger in showing their support of the junta have been seen waving Russia flags alongside Niger flags. The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has on numerous occasions cautioned ECOWAS against the use of Military to protest the junta and has rather encouraged peaceful bilateral talks.
President Putin says he held bilateral talks with Ukraine for 8 years before resulting to war, “for eight years, for eight endless years we have been doing everything possible to settle the situation by peaceful political means. Everything was in vain”.
Despite all pending intended actions, there has been an ambush on Niger soldiers which has so far led to the death of 17 soldiers.
POSSIBLE BONE OF CONTENTION
Mid-last year, Nigeria, Niger and Algeria signed an MOU for the commencement of a gas pipeline project called “the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline” (TSGP). The TSGP project has been in talks for years but was stalled in 2009. The $3 billion project has the possibility of sending up to 30billion cubic metres of natural gas to Europe a year.
The project when fully executed would start from Warri in Nigeria it will then pass through to Niger and end in Hassi R’Mel in Algeria. Then from Algeria, it will connect to existing pipelines to European countries. The TSGP seeks to among other financial benefits, diversify Russia’s autonomy of natural gas to European countries following the Russia-Ukraine war.
Now, there is political instability in Niger, which automatically has stalled the project. Provocatively, Niger seems to be building strong ties with Russia the enemy of most European countries at an obscene time. Nigeria amidst this doubles as the Chair of ECOWAS.
Why is ECOWAS threatening military action against Niger less than a month since the coup took place?
Why did ECOWAS not take military actions against countries that had coups recently?
Why is Russia suddenly getting inclined and building stronger relations with African countries especially places where coup has taken place?
Why are French colonies resulting to coups to cut their relationship with France?
And why are all these coups taking place during the tenure of the incumbent President of France Emmanuel Macron?
Why are there too many attempts to restore democracy in Niger compared to the coups that took place recently?
Is coup d’état the only solution to liberating francophone African countries from neo-colonialism?
Written by Kelvin Aboagye-Yeboah
This article is published by either a staff writer, an intern, or an editor of TheAfricanDream.net, based on editorial discretion.