Niger Coup Plotters Under Fire, ECOWAS Threatens to Use ‘Military Force’

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niger coup plotters under fire, ecowas threatens to use ‘military force’

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has warned the coup leaders to return Niger to its democratically elected government or face possible military intervention. Members of ECOWAS, led by Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu, gave Niger’s junta leaders a week’s ultimatum to release and reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum

“In the event the authorities’ demands are not met within one week, we will take all measures necessary to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger,” the 15-nation bloc said following an emergency meeting in Abuja. It threatened the military junta with the use of force. 

But Ulf Laessing, director of the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation, doesn’t see this as a realistic option. He said ECOWAS doesn’t have the military means to launch an operation in Niger. “The issue is that nobody in the army has come to the rescue of President Bazoum. They have no support on the ground. If you flew in a couple of special forces now by plane to Niamey airport, they would have the whole army against them.” 

Laessing said ECOWAS’s unusually harsh reaction for Niger could be seen as an attempt to forestall the alliance’s own irrelevance. “If they don’t stop this coup, people will start asking ‘why do we need an ECOWAS if they can’t impose their will’.” ECOWAS has also imposed sanctions, including suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between Niger and other ECOWAS member states

It should be noted that the U.S. and France have troops stationed in Niger. Supporters of the coup have taken to the streets of Niger with Russian flags and chanting pro-Putin messages. They also vandalized the French embassy in Niamey. Moreover, the coup leaders accused Niger’s toppled government of authorizing France to carry out strikes at the presidency in an effort to free Bazoum. 

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The Russian government expressed concerns about the developments in Niger. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said they are in favor of the speedy restoration of the rule of law in the country. “We are in favor of restraint on all sides so that this does not lead to human casualties.” 

French President Emmanuel Macron vowed immediate action if French citizens or interests were attacked in Niger. After Mali and Burkina Faso, Niger is the latest African state to be rocked by anti-French sentiment and pro-Russian sentiment runs high. There’s also growing Chinese influence. 

Francois Conradie, a political economist at Oxford Economics Africa, described the political crisis in Niger as a nightmare for the regional body and its civilian leaders. He believes the putschists will likely call on the French troops to withdraw from Niger. And this will have negative consequences on French businesses and French energy security as it’s highly dependent on Nigerien uranium for nuclear power generation.

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