The Latest developments in Niger:  A military intervention is closing with huge conflict of stand among African countries


Pressure of the international community on Saturday increased on the putschists in Niger, on the eve of the end of an ultimatum issued by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), stressing its readiness to intervene militarily.

On Saturday, the French Foreign Ministry affirmed its support with firmness and determination for ECOWAS’ efforts to defeat the coup attempt.

“The future of Niger and the stability of the entire region are at stake,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

On Friday, the military leaders of the countries of the group met in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, to discuss ways to deal with the latest coup in the African Sahel region.

“In this meeting, all elements of possible intervention were identified, including the necessary resources, as well as how and when we will deploy the force,” Abdel-Fattah Moussa, Commissioner for Political Affairs and Security in the regional organization, warned.

He added, “We want diplomacy to succeed and we want to convey this message to the Niger’s military council clearly, that we are giving them every opportunity to go back for what they have done”.

On the 30 of July, four days after the coup that overthrew the elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, West African countries gave the putschists seven days, that is, until Sunday evening, to restore Bazoum to his position under the penalty of using force.

On Friday and Saturday, Niger witnessed demonstrations in support of the putschists across the country, during which the Nigerien and Russian flags raised, in addition to pictures of the military who carried out the coup, according to state television and local journalists.

French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said in an exclusive interview with Agence France-Presse that the coup in Niger was a fatal miscalculation, weakening the fight against terrorism in the Sahel region.

He added, “Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world 40% of the country’s budget comes from foreign aid, and it will suffer greatly from its absence if constitutional order is not restored”.

Regarding the military intervention in Niger, he replied, “The warning was issued, and I do not have to comment on it… We see that the Economic Community of West African States assumes its responsibilities in managing this crisis”.

The military council in Niger confirmed that it would confront force with force.

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced that he is against any military intervention in neighboring Niger.

“We completely and categorically reject military intervention in Niger,” he said in a television interview on Saturday evening, adding, “What is happening in Niger is a direct threat to Algeria”.

Tebboune stressed that military intervention doesn’t solve any problem, but rather exacerbates matters, and Algeria won’t use force with its neighbors.

He added, “Algeria shares a border of about a thousand kilometers” with Niger, asking, “What is the situation today in the countries that witnessed military intervention?” referring to Libya and Syria.

The military council enjoys financial support and Burkina Faso, the two countries neighboring Niger that are ruled by the military after two coups in 2020 and 2022.

The two countries, whose membership was suspended in the “ECOWAS” bodies, said that any armed intervention in Niger would be considered a declaration of war against them as well, and would lead to their withdrawal from the economic community.

Neighboring Chad, which is an important military power, also announced that it wouldn’t participate in any military intervention.

In Benin, which borders Niger, Foreign Minister Olchigun Adjade Bakari stressed that diplomacy remains the preferred solution, but said his country would follow the example of ECOWAS if it decided to intervene.

Niger has acquired a pivotal role in French operations to combat extremist Islamic organizations in the Sahel region since its withdrawal from Mali at the request of the ruling military council in this country in the summer of 2022.

Niger initially served as a transit base for operations in Mali, before receiving the bulk of the French forces at an air base in Niamey.

The withdrawal of 1,500 French soldiers from Niger will be a new setback for Paris in its war against the jihadists.

In Nigeria, senior politicians have urged President Bola Tinubu to reconsider the threat of military intervention.

The Nigerian Senate called on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in his capacity as Chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to encourage other leaders in the group to promote political and diplomatic options.

Senators from states in northern Nigeria, seven of which share a 1,500-kilometre border with Niger, advised against any military intervention until all other options had been exhausted.

On Saturday, the country’s largest opposition rally denounced the possible military operation in Niger as “Totally ill-conceived”.

“The Nigerian Army has been overtaxed over the years in fighting terrorism and all methods of insurgency which are still very much active,” said the Alliance of United Political Parties.

On Thursday, Tinubu himself urged ECOWAS to do whatever it takes to reach an amicable solution to the crisis in Niger.

For its part, the federal government said on Saturday that Canada had decided to suspend direct development aid to the Niger government in response to the attempted coup in the country.

“Canada stands with the international community and expresses its support for ECOWAS’ mediation efforts to restore constitutional order in Niger,” Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Jolly said in a statement… The democratically elected government must be reinstated immediately”.

The Canadian government added in its statement that the suspension would include Canada’s direct budgetary support to the government of Niger.

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