Niger sent away an African Delegation and received more Sanctions

World | August 9, 2023, Wednesday // 09:40
Bulgaria: Niger sent away an African Delegation and received more Sanctions

New sanctions were imposed on Niger by neighboring Nigeria hours after a diplomatic delegation of African countries and the United Nations was sent away without meeting the junta that seized power in late July.

The sanctions imposed by Nigeria's central bank against military officials involved in the coup come a day before an emergency summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to discuss the next steps. ECOWAS had given the military a one-week ultimatum to restore to power the president Mohamed Bazoum, whom they had ousted, but after that deadline, they have yet to fulfill the military intervention they threatened.

Some European and African countries have warned that military intervention by ECOWAS should be a last resort and that diplomatic options should be kept to the last resort. ECOWAS confirmed the termination of the joint mission and said it would "continue to implement all measures to restore constitutional order in Niger".

The argument for not admitting the delegation was that its safety could not be guaranteed given the population's anger. Admitted instead were representatives of neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, where military juntas also rule and which supported Niger.

"The Wall Street Journal" wrote yesterday that the intervention is only postponed and that more preparations are needed, besides that in countries like Nigeria, an operation to restore democratic order meets public (and institutional) resistance.

Niger's armed forces are also preparing, and according to a CNN military source, they are transferring reinforcements to the capital, Niamey. Dozens of vehicles brought military personnel from other parts of the country as early as the evening of August 6. This is also when Niger closed its airspace due to the looming threat of "foreign interference".

According to the interlocutor of the "Wall Street Journal", more time is needed to increase the number of divisions before such an action, since "success depends on good preparation". It is not known whether the postponement is until the Abuja summit or later, but the European Union said it sees room for maneuver and mediation ahead of the meeting.

Meanwhile, Niger's military leaders are making changes to the civilian sector and the armed forces, with the army's inspector general replaced and a new head of the Presidential Guard in place, according to Al Jazeera. The coup against Bazoum started from the Presidential Guard on July 26.

A special "peace and reconciliation" unit was created, headed by the chairman of the ruling military council.

The United States appears to be increasingly taking a stand in the conflict. Hours after Acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland visited the junta for "difficult" talks with the group (but not its leader), State Secret Service Antony Blinken warned, in front of the BBC, of the risks of meddling by Russia and private military company "Wagner" in the country whose leader Mohamed Bazoum was a staunch ally of the West.

"We are still hopeful and still trying to achieve an outcome that is a return to constitutional order," US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters on Tuesday. Washington uses two military bases with more than 1,000 people in one of the world's poorest countries of 25 million people, whose growing isolation only worsens the humanitarian crisis. Under Bazoum, Niger had become the center of the West's fight against jihadist groups responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians across the region.

At the same time, the US made it clear that it would not stand on the path to military intervention. "In any case, we support the efforts of ECOWAS to restore constitutional order," Blinken said in an interview with RFI, quoted by El Pais. He said to Al Jazeera that he is in "intense contact" with the ousted President Bazoum and "many leaders in Africa". "We are all working together with the same goal - to restore constitutional order."

In addition to its strategic importance, Niger is the world's seventh largest producer of uranium, the most widely used fuel for nuclear power.

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Tags: Niger, sanctions, African, Bazoum

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