The military in Niger who seized power and overthrew the democratically elected president Mohamed Bazoum announced on Monday a series of measures that seek strengthen their hold on power and prepare for possible military intervention by neighboring countries.
The board, headed by Brigadier General Abdrahmane Tchianiordered its armed forces to be placed on maximum alert due to “threats of aggression against the national territory” and asked neighboring countries mali and Burkina Faso, also ruled by military regimes, to send troops to help defend it. In addition, he set a deadline for the departure of the French ambassador and called for a march to gather support for the departure of French troops.
French President Emmanuel Macron declared on Monday that the ambassador will remain in Niger. Macron spoke out emphatically against the putschists as he insisted that France is not the enemy of France.
“Our policy is correct. It depends on the courage of President Mohamed Bazoum, the commitment of our diplomats and our ambassador there who remains despite the pressure,” Macron told a meeting of French ambassadors in Paris.
Seidik Abba, a Nigerian researcher and president of the Paris-based International Center for Reflection and Studies on the Sahel, said the junta is trying to entrench its power and thwart attempts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to pressure the military government to reverse the coup.
“The risk of a war (between Niger and the regional bloc) remains quite high,” estimated Nate Allen, an associate professor at the Center for Strategic Studies in Africa. He claimed that the junta is siding with the regimes in Mali and Burkina Faso in “a very strong, anti-Western and pro-authoritarian orientation.”
ECOWAS has said it is imperative to reverse the coup in Niger “in order to stop the spiral of blows” in West Africa. In a meeting on Saturday with Molly Phee, the top US diplomat for African affairs, the head of the bloc, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, accused the Niger junta of trying to “play time” after the failure of negotiations to restore Niger. Bazoum, who remains in custody.
“The consensus in ECOWAS is that we will not allow anyone to insincerely let time pass,” Tinubu said, adding that he has been preventing an intervention by the bloc “despite the fact that he is ready for any option”, including a military intervention in Niger.
The EU stresses that it will not recognize the authorities placed by the coup leaders in Niger
The European Union considered this Monday as a “new provocation” the decision of the coup leaders in Niger to expel the French ambassador and stressed that “does not recognize nor will recognize” to the authorities resulting from the coup d’état.
The EU “does not recognize and will not recognize the authorities resulting from the coup in Niger,” a spokeswoman for the European External Action Service (EEAS), headed by the head of community diplomacy Josep Borrell, said in a statement.
“The decision of the coup leaders to expel the French ambassador is a new provocation that cannot help in any way to find a diplomatic solution to the current crisis,” said the EEAS spokeswoman.
In fact, the Twenty-seven maintain their “full” support for the French ambassador, added spokeswoman Nabila Massrali.
The military junta that took power in Niamey after the July 26 coup had given the French ambassador an ultimatum, Sylvain Itte, to leave Niger before midnight on Sunday. But Itté has not left because Paris considers that this directive does not come from the “legitimate authorities.”
France has some 1,500 soldiers in Nigerthe last country in the Sahel with Chad in which it has a military presence, after having had to leave Mali and Burkina Faso due to the coups that have led two military juntas to seize the reins of power.
(With information from AP and EFE)
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