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African Union Suspends Niger Amidst Military Coup

African Union


African Union Suspends Niger Amidst Military Coup

Niger has become the fourth West African country to undergo a coup d’état since 2020, joining Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali.

The African Union has officially suspended Niger, a country currently facing a coup d’état since July 26th. The organization has also issued a directive to its member states, urging them to refrain from taking any actions that could potentially legitimize the ruling junta.

According to a press release issued on Tuesday, the continental organization has taken the step of distancing itself from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS. This move comes after the African Union expressed concerns about the potential for a military intervention aimed at reinstating President Mohamed Bazoum, who was ousted due to the ongoing political turmoil.

Convening on August 14th, the AU Peace and Security Council made the decision to promptly halt the involvement of the Republic of Niger in all AU-related activities, its various bodies, and institutions. This suspension will remain in effect until the legitimate restoration of constitutional order is accomplished within the nation, as stated in a press release issued on Tuesday.

The PSC (Peace and Security Council) wholeheartedly backs the initiatives of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) in its dedicated pursuit of reinstating constitutional order through diplomatic avenues. The council reiterates its unwavering endorsement of ECOWAS’ relentless endeavours aimed at achieving the peaceful and orderly restoration of constitutional governance within Niger.

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And it “invites the military junta in Niger to cooperate with Ecowas and the AU with a view to the peaceful and rapid restoration of constitutional order”.

The council urges member states to diligently enforce the sanctions levied by ECOWAS against Niger. It further appeals for a phased implementation of these measures, with a mindful approach towards mitigating their adverse impact on the general population of Niger, aiming to minimize any disproportionate consequences.

“Not a walk in the Park”

Following the military overthrow of President Bazoum, ECOWAS declared its intention to deploy a West African force aimed at restoring constitutional order in Niger. The operational specifics of this deployment, including its timeline, remain undisclosed.

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While ECOWAS emphasizes its preference for a diplomatic resolution, it maintains the threat of employing force, despite internal dissent within the organization on this matter.

After a gathering of West African chiefs of staff in Accra, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, confirmed the setting of the “day of intervention,” along with established strategic objectives, necessary resources, and member state commitments.

General Abdourahamane Tiani, Niger’s new leader, countered, “If aggression were to occur against us, it wouldn’t be as straightforward as some assume.” This statement came shortly after Tiani announced a transition period of a maximum of three years before civilian power restoration.

ECOWAS swiftly rejected this timeline, particularly as a West African delegation was in Niamey to explore a peaceful resolution.

Abdel-Fatau Musah stated firmly, “A three-year transition period is unacceptable to ECOWAS. We demand a swift return to constitutional order.”

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Among Niger’s major international partners, France extended complete support to ECOWAS, while the United States urged a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

Approximately 1,500 French and 1,100 US troops are present in Niger as part of the anti-jihadist campaign in the Sahel.

Notably, the PSC adamantly opposes external interference from non-African actors or nations, including engagements by private military companies, likely referring to the Kremlin-linked paramilitary group Wagner, known for its operations in Mali.

Niger has become the fourth West African country to undergo a coup d’état since 2020, joining Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali.

The Niger coup has raised concerns among Western allies due to potential implications for the Trans-Saharan gas pipeline project, set to connect Nigeria and Algeria by 2027 for transporting natural gas to Europe.

Since the toppling of President Bazoum’s administration, apprehensions of instability in the Sahel region have surged. The area grapples with escalating insurgencies led by jihadist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Buhari Olanrewaju Ahmed, a seasoned investigative journalist and climate/environmental reporter with a decade of experience, unravels complex issues and amplifies critical voices. His in-depth investigative work and insightful reporting have earned him recognition as a trusted source of information. Ahmed's unwavering commitment to journalism and exceptional storytelling prowess make him a standout figure in investigative journalism. His work drives meaningful conversations, influences policy decisions, and inspires collective efforts toward a sustainable future.

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