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“Niger Deploys Additional Troops to Capital Following Disregard of Power Transfer Deadline”

August 7, 2023







Niger’s armed forces are bolstering their presence in the capital as they brace for a possible invasion, according to a military insider who spoke to CNN. This development comes shortly after the nation’s military junta, which currently holds power, rejected a deadline set by a significant regional bloc to relinquish control.

Under the cover of nightfall on Sunday, approximately 40 pickup trucks arrived, transporting troops from various regions of Niger. This move is aimed at reassuring the public and making preparations for potential conflict.

Niger has plunged into a state of political turmoil since the ousting of President Mohamed Bazoum by the presidential guard in a coup d’état at the end of last month. In response, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed sanctions and issued an ultimatum to the junta: step down within a week or face possible military intervention.

Despite the passing of the deadline on Sunday, there has been no alteration in the political landscape. President Bazoum remains deposed, with his whereabouts still unknown. The junta, formally known as the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland, continues to hold control over Niger. A junta leader announced that the country’s airspace would be closed due to the perceived threat of military intervention.

The next course of action remains uncertain. While ECOWAS leaders express a preference for resolving the crisis diplomatically, they maintain their willingness to resort to force as a last resort in order to restore Niger’s democratically elected government to power.

This uncertainty has created unease among the residents of Niamey, the capital. Some individuals have flocked to supermarkets to stock up on essentials like rice and cooking oil, while others are attempting to leave the city. Local bus company employees report that most routes out of the capital are fully booked.

In a show of support for the military government and opposition to ECOWAS sanctions, pro-junta demonstrators assembled at a 30,000-seat stadium in Niamey on Sunday.

Despite its considerable resources, Niger remains one of the world’s most impoverished countries. Many Nigeriens, particularly the younger generation, view France as a contributing factor to their country’s persisting poverty. Supporters of the new military government see this change as a way to distance Niger from French influence.

The fate of Niger’s elected government holds significance for neighboring democratic nations and Western partners. The United States and France have stationed numerous troops, some engaged in counterterrorism efforts, based on the stability of Niger as a democracy in a region prone to political instability, terrorism, and Islamist insurgencies.

Neighboring democratic nations fear that the coup could set off a chain reaction, given the fragility of many West African democracies. After coups in 2021 and 2022, military governments took control in Mali and Burkina Faso. Both countries now support the Nigerien junta.

Mali and Burkina Faso jointly declared last week that any military intervention in Niger would be considered “an act of war” against all three nations.

Both countries are sending delegations to Niamey in solidarity with Niger, as stated by the Malian Armed Forces. While Burkina Faso has yet to confirm its attendance, its Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not responded to CNN’s request for confirmation.

Source: CNN

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