The Army in Niger Overthrew the President and Took Power: Opportunity for Russian Influence Opens Up

World | July 27, 2023, Thursday // 09:20|  views

The army took power in Niger. In a televised address, the military announced that President Mohamed Bazoum had been removed from power and that all institutions and state borders would be closed until further notice, BTA reported. The message was read on national television by Colonel Amadou Abdraman.

"We have decided to put an end to the regime you know because of the deterioration of the security situation and mismanagement" - he said on behalf of the National Council for the Fatherland, surrounded by nine officers. - "All institutions are temporarily suspended. All land and air borders are closed, a nationwide curfew from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. has also been introduced until further notice."

The military is warning any foreign authorities not to try to intervene. They claim to guarantee Bazum's immunity.

A military takeover would mark the seventh consecutive coup in West and Central Africa since 2020. It could complicate the West's efforts to help countries in the Sahel region (countries south of the Sahara) to fight jihadist extremism, which in the past ten years has left the borders of Mali and spread to their territory, Reuters notes.

Niger is a landlocked former French colony. The country has become a key ally in the fight against extremism for Western powers facing increasing hostility from the new juntas in Mali and Burkina Faso. Niger is also an important EU ally in the fight against illegal migration from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe. Last year, France moved troops from Mali into Niger after Paris's relationship with the interim government in Bamako soured. Due to such tensions, France also withdrew its special forces from Burkina Faso.

Bazum's election was the first democratic transfer of power in a country that has experienced four coups since gaining independence from France in 1960.

Since 2012, the US has spent about 0 million to support Niger's security forces.

In April, Germany announced it would take part in a three-year European military mission to improve the capabilities of Niger's army.

Bazum was the West's only hope in the Sahel region. A large part of the resource allocations from France, the US and the EU for the region, went specifically to Niger and strengthened its security forces," said the head of the Sahel program at Germany's Konrad Adenauer Foundation. According to Ulf Laessing, each coup opens an opportunity for Russia and other players to expand their influence in Niger.

The military's televised address came hours after members of the presidential guard blockaded the presidential palace in Niger's capital, Niamey, detaining the president and his family. The interior minister is also in the hands of the rebels, the agencies note.

Earlier, the office of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced that the head of the world organization spoke by phone with Bazum.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also announced support for Bazum and democracy in Niger, who also after a telephone conversation with Bazum insisted on the immediate release of the president. The No. 1 American diplomat indicated that the future of the Washington-Niamey security partnership will depend on whether Niger continues to be governed democratically.

"Whether this is actually a coup or not, I can't say, let the jurists decide, but there is no doubt that this is all an attempt to seize power by force and violate the constitution," Blinken told a news conference in the New Zealand capital, Wellington.

Britain condemned attempts to undermine stability and democracy in Niger and added that it was closely monitoring events in the capital of the West African state.

France, the EU, the regional organization ECOWAS and the African Union also condemned the military rebellion in Niger.

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Tags: Niger, Russian, army, Bazoum, military


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