A group of Niger’s junta supporters demonstrate in front of a French army base in Niamey, Nerbia on August 11, 2023.
A parliamentary committee from the ECOWAS bloc is set to travel to Niger to meet with coup leaders who took power in Abuja, as part of a regional effort to reinstate civilian control that will involve religious leaders, according to Reuters.
The military of Niger detained President Mohamed Bazoum and dissolved the elected government, which has been met with criticism from regional powers. They have deployed a stand-by military force to assist in any emergency situation.
The coup leaders, under the leadership of General Abdourahamane Tiani, have turned down diplomatic endeavors from ECOWAS, the United States, and other nations, raising the possibility of additional hostilities in the impoverished Sahel region of West Africa, which is already plagued by a lethal Islamist rebellion.
The situation in Niger, a significant contributor to uranium and ally of the West in the struggle against Islamists, is at risk, as are the competing global powers with strategic interests in West and Central Africa, where seven coups have occurred in three years.
Niger is home to troops from the United States, France, Germany, and Italy, who are stationed in the region where al Qaeda and Islamic State have caused the deaths of thousands and resettled millions.
The rise of insecurity, the erosion of democracy, and the search for new partners to restore order have led to an increase in Russian influence.
ECOWAS’ parliament met on Saturday to discuss the next steps in Niger. The committee did not make a decision, but it established senate members who will meet with Nigerian President Bola Tinubu and ask for his approval to travel to Nigerian.
According to a Nigerian presidential source, Tinubu was granted permission by Sheikh Abdullahi Bala Lau and he held talks with dozens of prominent Nigerial Islamic scholars on Saturday to seek permission for intervention.
It was unclear if they were already in Niger, but they had planned to meet with other clerics there to resolve the diplomatic impasse.
The junta in Niger is worried about the possibility of Russian influence increasing due to the expulsion of French troops from Mali and Burkina Faso after coups.
Mali’s decision to use mercenaries from Wagner Group, a Russian private military contractor, has coincided with increased violence there. The withdrawal of armed UN security personnel may further fuel tensions, according to security sources.
Thousands of demonstrators rallied outside a French military base in Niamey, the capital of Niger, on Friday to support the coup.
A protester had a sign that read “Long live Russia.” Another expressed solidarity with France and ECOWAS. Another participant stated: “Wagner will protect our children from terrorism.”
The regional army chiefs were slated to convene in the near future.
The ECOWAS force’s arrival time, size, and invasion potential were not immediately apparent, but it may take several weeks to gather.
Only Ivory Coast has announced its readiness to provide troops, while some nations, such as Liberia and Cape Verde, have indicated their preference for diplomacy. Russia has cautioned against military action.
The African Union, the European Union and the United States were all concerned about Bazoum’s detention.
Volker Turk, the U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights, stated on Friday that conditions were rapidly deteriorating and could potentially infringe international human rights law.
Ingrid Melander, Mark Potter, Giles Elgood, and Sandra Maler edited the book with editing by Edward McAllister.
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