Military Intervention In Niger: Africa Has Everything To Lose And Nothing To Gain

By Mohammed Bello Doka,
1 August, 2023,

Niger Republic, the newest addition to the league of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Chad ruled by military dictatorships, is currently facing a dire situation. Last week, Niger's democratically elected government, led by President Mohammad Bazoum, was overthrown by the country's special forces and the Presidential guards, effectively establishing another dictatorship. This event has provoked varied reactions, prompting the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) to reconsider their stance.

In response to the coup, ECOWAS convened a meeting in Abuja on Sunday, issuing a stern ultimatum to the Niger military: restore democracy within seven days or face the potential use of force to reinstate constitutional order.

 The weight of this declaration was further solidified when United States Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, reached out to Nigeria's President, who also serves as ECOWAS Chairperson, to express support for the planned military intervention in Niger. 

Notably, the French government also pledged its assistance to ECOWAS, standing ready to intervene militarily if necessary, with the goal of reinstating the civilian government and ensuring the return of democracy in Niger.

Amidst these political maneuvers, Niger's junta leaders swiftly accused France of seeking to intervene militarily in order to restore the deposed president, Mohamed Bazoum. This accusation followed ECOWAS' demand for the coup leaders to reinstate Bazoum within one week, emphasizing that failure to do so may lead to military action by the bloc to restore constitutional order.

The recent coup saw General Abdourahmane Tchiane declare himself Niger's new leader, prompting the African Union to present the soldiers with a 15-day deadline to return to their barracks and restore constitutional rule.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Nigeriens took to the streets in a massive anti-French demonstration, which spilled over from the country's capital, Niamey, to touch French soil. These demonstrators waved Russian flags and urged the military leaders to sever ties with France while embracing Russia, hinting at potential Russian involvement.

 Adding to the complexity of the situation, the Niger military dictatorship suspended uranium exports to France, further fueling tensions just as Europe seeks alternative energy sources beyond Russia's control.

Unfortunately, this unfolding crisis is once again highlighting the recurring power dynamics between Europe and America on one hand, and China and Russia on the other, all vying for influence in Africa. It is therefore crucial for African leaders to exercise wisdom and foresight to prevent another Ukraine-like scenario from unfolding within their own continent. The consequences of such a conflict would be devastating for Africa, exacerbating its already fragile state.

Critics question the sincerity of France and the United States in terms of saving democracy in Niger. Why did they not deploy their troops to prevent the coup in the first place? Why were security reports not provided to the Nigerien government prior to the coup? And when it became apparent that a mutiny was brewing, why weren't measures taken to provide necessary protection for President Bazoum, his family, and cabinet members?

As Africa stands at a critical crossroads, one phrase serves as a poignant reminder: "Think Africa, think." African leaders must carefully consider the potential ramifications of allowing world powers to exploit the ongoing proxy war, which could ultimately cripple the already vulnerable continent. Swift and decisive action is needed to safeguard and uphold the principles of democracy in Niger while preventing further destabilization in the region.

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