Niger Crisis: African Union Convenes Discussions, As Conflicting Signals Emerge From Military Junta - The Top Society

Niger Crisis: African Union Convenes Discussions, As Conflicting Signals Emerge From Military Junta


The African Union (AU), Monday, engaged in discussions regarding the Niger crisis, while the nation’s leaders following the coup displayed a mix of defiance and a potential reliance on diplomacy to address the situation.


The pan-African body said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter; “AU’s Peace & Security Council meets to receive an update on the evolution of the situation in Niger and the efforts to address it.”


The gathering occurred at the AU headquarters situated in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. Among the participants were Moussa Faki Mahamat, the head of the AU Commission, along with delegates from Niger and the West African bloc ECOWAS.


The ousting of President Mohamed Bazoum, who marked a significant moment in the nation’s tumultuous past with his election in 2021, transpired on July 26 at the hands of his own presidential guard members, resonating with similar military takeovers in Mali and Burkina Faso, both of which have also grappled with jihadist insurgencies.


To prevent further escalation, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed sanctions on Niger and recently approved the deployment of a “standby force to restore constitutional order,” aiming to halt the trend.


However, various uncertainties cast doubt on any potential intervention, ranging from operational feasibility to internal divisions within ECOWAS. The bloc also emphasizes its preference for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.


Having issued a seven-day ultimatum on July 30, ECOWAS demanded the restoration of Bazoum or the potential utilization of force, but the deadline expired without any action taken.


As the crisis approaches the conclusion of its third week, conflicting signals have emerged from the governing body.


Over the weekend, the leaders behind the coup conveyed their willingness to engage in diplomatic efforts, following a meeting between their leader, General Abdourahamane Tiani, and Nigerian religious mediators.


These discussions occurred subsequent to the postponement of a planned gathering of ECOWAS military leaders in Ghana, attributed to “technical reasons.”


Simultaneously, the rulers of Niger also proclaimed their possession of substantial evidence to bring charges of “high treason and undermining internal and external security” against Bazoum.


Since the coup, Bazoum, aged 63, and his family have been confined to the official presidential residence, prompting growing international concern regarding their well-being while in detention.


On Monday, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, a civilian serving as the military-appointed prime minister, stated that Niger would resist the sanctions threat posed by ECOWAS.


“We think that even though it is an unfair challenge that has been imposed on us, we should be able to overcome it. And we will overcome it,” he told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.


The alliance has cut off financial transactions and halted the flow of electricity, while also shutting down borders with landlocked Niger. These actions have impeded crucial imports to one of the globe’s most impoverished nations.


In a statement on Sunday, the military commanders conveyed that the sanctions have created significant obstacles for citizens to obtain essential medical supplies, sustenance, and electricity.


They characterized this form of punishment as “illegal, inhumane and humiliating.”


“We have a great interest in preserving this important and historical relationship and also in having ECOWAS work on purely economic issues first,” Zeine emphasized the significance of Niger’s connections with its neighboring country Nigeria, along with its association with the West African bloc.


Looking back at the landlocked country situated in the arid Sahel region, Niger stands out as one of the globe’s most impoverished and tumultuous nations.


Consistently finding itself at the lowest ranks of the United Nations’ Human Development Index, Niger’s level of prosperity has remained challenging.


The year 2021 saw Bazoum’s election, which was a historic event as it marked Niger’s first peaceful transfer of power since gaining independence from France in 1960.


Despite overcoming two previous coup attempts, Bazoum was eventually removed from office, becoming the fifth instance of a coup in the nation’s history.


The global community has united in support of Bazoum, demanding his reinstatement.


His removal significantly impacts the strategic plans of both France and the United States in the Sahel region.


Following tensions with local juntas, France redirected its counter-jihadist efforts towards Niger after withdrawing from Mali and Burkina Faso the previous year.


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