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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

West Africa Stands Firm against Niger Coup Leaders, French Embassy Subjected to Violence

Chad's President Mahamat Idriss Deby had a meeting with Nigerian President Bola Tinubu during a summit

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

NIGER/NIGERIA: West African countries have imposed sanctions and issued a threat of force, demanding that Niger’s coup leaders restore ousted President Mohammed Bazoum within one week, while backers of the Junta attacked the French embassy in Niamey.

In response to the Sahel region’s seventh coup in recent years, the 15-nation ECOWAS bloc reacted while crowds in Niamey, burned French flags and attacked the former colonial power’s mission, leading to police using tear gas. Images depicted fires at the embassy walls and individuals being carried into ambulances with injured legs.

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During an emergency summit in Nigeria convened to address the recent coup, leaders from the Economic Community of West African States urged the restoration of constitutional order and issued a warning of potential repercussions if it’s not achieved.

Their communique stated that “such measures may include the use of force,” adding that defence officials would promptly convene to address the situation.

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Chad’s President Mahamat Idriss Deby, who assumed power in 2021 through a coup, had a meeting with Nigerian President Bola Tinubu during a summit. According to two presidential aides who requested anonymity, Deby expressed his willingness to engage with military leaders in Niger.

Niger’s state TV aired footage of Deby’s arrival and his meeting with Nigerian officials.

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The eight-member West African Economic and Monetary Union and ECOWAS announced that they would immediately seal their borders with Niger, ban commercial flights, suspend financial transactions, freeze national assets, and stop providing aid. It also stated that travel restrictions and asset freezes would apply to military officials participating in the coup. 

Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou, the prime minister of Niger under Bazoum’s administration, stated that ECOWAS sanctions would be terrible because the nation significantly depends on outside partners to meet its financial demands.

Mahamadou, who was away at the time of the coup, said to France24 television from Paris, stated that he understands Niger’s fragility, as well as the country’s economic and financial situation, having served as finance minister and now as prime minister.

He stated that this is a country that will be unable to withstand such sanctions, which will be catastrophic.

ECOWAS’s decision on Sunday was praised by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

In a statement, Blinken said, “We join ECOWAS and regional leaders in calling for the immediate release of President Mohamed Bazoum and his family and the restoration of all state functions to the legitimate, democratically elected government.”

Following coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea in the previous three years, ECOWAS imposed similar sanctions.

These sanctions resulted in debt defaults, especially in Mali. However, political analysts argue that such measures tend to impact civilians more than the military leaders who took control, affecting some of the world’s poorest countries. Though timelines were set to restore civilian rule in all three nations, little progress has been made in their implementation.

The recent military coup in Niger, which began on Wednesday, has faced widespread condemnation from neighbouring countries and international partners, including the United States, the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, and France, its former colonial power. They have all refused to recognise the new leaders, who are led by General Abdourahamane Tiani.

Niger has been a crucial ally in Western efforts against insurgent groups linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State in the Sahel. There are concerns that the coup could pave the way for increased Russian influence in the region. Following coups in Mali and Burkina Faso, thousands of French troops were compelled to withdraw. 

Niger, one of the world’s poorest countries, is receiving nearly $2 billion in official development assistance each year, according to the World Bank.

Germany, France, Italy, and the United States all have military personnel stationed there on training missions and insurgent combat operations. The radioactive metal uranium, which is used to make nuclear energy and weaponry as well as to treat cancer, is also produced in Niger in the seventh-largest quantities worldwide.

The Junta in Niger had issued a warning ahead of the summit, saying that ECOWAS, in conjunction with other African and some Western countries, was considering launching a military intervention soon.

Colonel Amadou Abdramane, a junta spokesman, stated, “We want to remind ECOWAS or any other adventurer of our firm determination to defend our homeland.”

Also Read: Calm Descends on Sudanese Capital as 24-hour Ceasefire Takes Effect


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