“I write this as a hostage.” The request for help of the ousted president of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum in a rostrum of the Washington Post on Thursday night, it’s a desperate cry for helpnot just to get him reinstated in power.
He warns that the military coup that overthrew him means “Russian expansion” in the Sahel desert, the territory where Westerners fight jihadists.
The publication coincided with the arrival of a delegation from ECOWAS, the African European Union, in Niamey to demand that the junta reinstate the ousted president or there will be military action.
In a column published Thursday night in the Washington Postt, the legally elected president of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, warned the international community of the “devastating” consequences for the world of the coup in his country. According to him, this region of the Sahel could, due to the influence of Wagner’s mercenaries, come under “Russian influence”.
Therefore, he made “a call to the United States government and the entire international community to help restore constitutional order,” he added, in his first public statement after being ousted.
“I am writing this as a hostage,” said Mohamed Bazoum, kidnapped by coup soldiers in the presidential palace. “This coup has no justification and if it succeeds, it will have devastating consequences for our country, our region and the entire world,” he stressed.
“In the troubled region of the Sahel, in the midst of authoritarian movements that have been imposed among some of our neighbors, Niger is the last bastion for the respect of rights,” he continued in this text, published in English.
The role of the mercenaries of the Wagner group
Burkina Faso and Mali, neighboring countries also ruled by the military, “employ criminal mercenaries like the Wagner group” to “solve security problems” instead of “strengthening their own capabilities,” the ousted president wrote.
However, “the entire central Sahel region could come under Russian influence, through the Wagner group, whose brutal terrorism has been clearly exposed in Ukraine,” the democratically elected leader continued in 2021.
“This coup must stop and the junta must release all those it is holding illegally,” Mohamed Bazoum urged, saying he fears for the future of his country, “under an autocratic junta, without vision and without reliable allies.”
Joe Biden Solidarity
The first act of solidarity came from US President Joe Biden, who maintains a drone base in Niger and his troops, in his battle against terrorism.
Joe Biden has called for the immediate release of Niger’s president and for the country’s democracy to be restored, in the highest-profile US statement. He would join a military intervention, if necessary, and has not withdrawn his troops from Niger, like the 1,500 French soldiers there.
“I call for President Bazoum and his family to be released immediately. And for the preservation of hard-won democracy in Niger,” the US president said, in a statement on Thursday, the 63rd anniversary of Niger’s independence.
“At this critical moment, the United States stands with the people of Niger to honor our decades-long partnership, rooted in shared democratic values and support for civilian-led governance,” Biden wrote.
hectic early morning
A delegation from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS arrived in Niger early Thursday for talks with the leaders of the coup. Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, the bloc’s chairman, urged representatives to do “whatever is necessary to ensure a conclusive and amicable resolution of the situation in Niger,” his office said.
It was almost 2am on Thursday when Niger’s junta said it will respond ‘immediately’ to any ‘aggression’ from the West African bloc. Exactly three days before an ultimatum to restore order, issued by the regional bloc, is set to expire. ECOWAS.
“Any aggression or attempted aggression against the State of Niger will see an immediate and unannounced response from the Niger Defense and Security Forces on one of the bloc’s members, with the exception of suspended friendly countries,” declared one of the coup leaders in a statement, alluding to neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali.
In a very busy early morning, the Niger junta ended the terms of their country’s ambassadors to the US, France, Nigeria and Togo. Niger’s coup leaders announced late Thursday that they were ending the terms of ambassadors in four countries as they face international pressure to restore the democratically elected leader they ousted last week.
Niger’s junta on Thursday night revoked five military cooperation agreements with France, amid a wave of anti-French sentiment. France has between 1,000 and 1,500 soldiers in Nigerhelping to fight Islamist insurgent groups.
A decision on the revocation of the military agreements with France, which date between 1977 and 2020, was read on national television on Thursday night by the representative of the junta, Amadou Abdramane.
The military added that a diplomatic notice would be sent to France to that effect. There was no immediate response from Paris. niger too suspended international news media broadcasts France 24 and RFI, funded by the French state, drawing condemnation from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The move is similar to the post-coup crackdown on French media by juntas in Mali and Burkina Faso, which have also expelled French troops, many of whom are stationed in Niger.
The coup against Bazoum was the seventh in the West and Central Africa region since 2020.
Destabilization in Africa
Niger’s ambassador to the US has said a coup could destabilize the region. Niger’s junta must “come to its senses” and return ousted President Mohamed Bazoum to power before the country and wider region collapse, the US ambassador said. Thursday the Niamey ambassador in Washington.
“If Niger collapses, the entire Sahel will collapse, it will become destabilized,” Kiari Liman-Tinguiri told AFP in an interview on Niger’s independence day MILITARY ATTACK ON NIGER BY ITS NEIGHBORS In the Senegalese capital, Dakar, the Foreign Minister Aïssata Tall Sall told reporters there had been “one coup too many” in the region. Senegal would participate if the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) decided to intervene militarily in Niger “Senegalese soldiers, for all these reasons, will go there,” she said, citing Senegal’s international commitments. “Senegal’s conviction is that these coups must be stopped.”
Sall and Biden’s comments came as the country’s junta went on television to warn against foreign military interference in the impoverished country.
“The United States still believes that a peaceful mediation effort should take place in Niger following a coup there,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said at a briefing on Thursday.
“Right now we are focused on diplomacy. We still believe that there is time and space for that,” she said.
“The United States has chartered a plane to evacuate its non-essential personnel from the Niger coup,” a State Department official said Thursday.
He added that consular services in Niger had begun contacting “several hundred” registered US citizens to determine whether they planned to stay or leave the fragile nation. “But there are many Americans who don’t want to leave,” she added.
Russia will occupy the space if the West leaves
In one of the few addresses to the West African country since he wrested power from Bazoum, Niger’s democratically elected president a week ago, coup leader and general Abdourahmane Tchiani warned against foreign meddling and intervention.
Tchiani called on the “people of Niger as a whole and their unity to defeat all those who want to inflict unspeakable suffering on our working populations and destabilize our country.”
His comments came after Ecowas officials said the political and security group would consider “military intervention” a “last resort” if the coup leaders did not back down.
Niger has been a key Western ally in the Sahel region in the fight against jihadist groups. regional and has hosted French, American and other troops. Russia has tried to exploit the spate of recent coups in the Sahel.
Western officials fear that if military missions leave Niger, it would create a vacuum that Russia and its Wagner group of mercenaries would fill. The Kremlin already has a significant presence in Mali, the Central African Republic, Mozambique and Sudan while courting Burkina Faso.
With the overthrow of Bazoum, these missions, and the French one in particular, are threatened, since the coup leaders have aroused anti-foreign sentiment, with violent demonstrations and attacks on the French embassy.