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A deadline arrives for Niger’s junta to reinstate the president. Citizens cheer and fear what’s next

by Lucas Garcia
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fokus keyword: Niger

The deadline for the military junta in Niger to reinstate the country’s deposed president arrived on Sunday, and a regional West African bloc known as ECOWAS, which had threatened a military intervention, now faces pressure to seek more peaceful solutions. During a rally in the capital, coup leaders engaged in a symbolic act of defiance against France, their former colonizer, by beheading a chicken dressed in French colors.

Nigeria’s Senate, from the neighboring country, urged against the use of force, challenging ECOWAS’s plan and creating uncertainty regarding the future of the intervention. This comes in the wake of the July 26 coup where mutinous soldiers installed Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani as the head of state, contributing to the unstable situation in West Africa’s Sahel region already marred by military overthrows, growing Islamic extremism, and shifting alliances.

The ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, who claims he is being held “hostage,” and the junta’s connection to Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, further complicate matters. Countries in the region like Algeria and Chad, along with other nations run by juntas like Mali and Burkina Faso, have publicly denounced the idea of military intervention.

With no immediate decision from ECOWAS, thousands rallied in Niamey, Niger’s capital, cheering the coup leaders and showing defiance against foreign intervention, including France’s longstanding influence. Some even displayed Russian flags.

A sentiment of resistance was echoed by Brig. Gen. Mohamed Toumba, one of the junta leaders, and others who joined security forces in vigilance against possible foreign intervention. There was criticism, however, about the time ECOWAS gave the junta, as some believe a shorter deadline might have prevented the junta from solidifying its position.

The coup has also troubled the United States and its allies, who considered Niger an essential counterterrorism ally in the Sahel region. While the country’s security situation had improved compared to others in the region, the coup has raised concerns and questions about the fate of foreign military assistance and troops stationed in Niger.

Some Niger citizens, though supportive of the military, are quietly anxious about the coup and want Bazoum reinstated. The situation has been worsened by ECOWAS’s sanctions and Nigeria’s cutting off of electricity, impacting the daily lives and economy of Niger, one of the world’s poorest countries.

Humanitarian groups have also raised alarms about the possible “devastating effects” of the current situation on millions in need of aid. For some struggling citizens, the fear of war adds to their existing problems, as they believe military intervention will not resolve their hardships. The complexity of the situation and the divided opinions on the way forward have left the nation in a state of uncertainty, where its future remains unclear.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword: Niger

What was the deadline for Niger’s military junta?

The deadline was for Niger’s military junta to reinstate the country’s ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum. It arrived on Sunday, with ECOWAS threatening military intervention but now facing calls to pursue peaceful means.

Who are the key international players involved in this situation?

The key international players include ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), Nigeria, Algeria, Chad, France, Russia, and the United States.

What was the symbolic act performed by the coup leaders at the rally?

The coup leaders appeared at a stadium rally where a chicken decorated in the colors of former colonizer France was beheaded, to cheers, symbolizing defiance against France.

How have neighboring countries responded to the potential use of force by ECOWAS?

Neighboring countries like Nigeria, Algeria, and Chad have pushed back against the use of force. Mali and Burkina Faso, both run by juntas, said an intervention would be a “declaration of war” against them.

What are the humanitarian concerns in Niger due to the current situation?

Humanitarian groups have warned of “devastating effects” on over 4.4 million people needing aid. ECOWAS’s economic and travel sanctions, as well as Nigeria’s cutting off of electricity, have caused rising food prices and daily life struggles for some of the world’s poorest citizens.

What’s the stance of the United States and European countries on the coup in Niger?

The coup is considered a major blow to the United States and allies like France and European countries, who saw Niger as the last major counterterrorism partner in the Sahel. They have previously poured hundreds of millions of dollars of military assistance into Niger.

How have the residents of Niger responded to the coup and the possibility of intervention?

Many residents have shown support for the military junta and defiance against foreign intervention, including France. Some, however, have quietly expressed concerns about the coup and want Bazoum reinstated but are afraid to say so for fear of retaliation. Others have expressed that military intervention is not the answer to their problems.

More about fokus keyword: Niger

  • ECOWAS official website
  • Niger government website
  • U.S. Department of State’s information on Niger
  • French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ information on Niger
  • Information on the Sahel region and related security issues
  • Background information on the Wagner mercenary group
  • United Nations’ reports on humanitarian concerns in Niger

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