Niger Military Coup#Niger Military Coup

The state broadcast channel announced: “The ruler of the country has changed, and from now on, we are the king. You must bow down before us.” Initially, President Mohamed Bazoum was taken into custody. Subsequently, key positions were occupied by the coup’s trusted personnel. We’re talking about Niger.

What has happened, dear readers, is a coup d’état in Niger.

Quick Note: Niger should not be confused with Nigeria; both are distinct countries. Niger has witnessed this kind of upheaval three times before. In the region where Niger is located, coups have become common.

#Niger Military Coup

On 23rd January 2022, the military in Burkina Faso overthrew President Roch Kaboré. This was followed by a rebellion, and eight months later, another faction of the military staged another coup. Similarly, in August 2022, a coup occurred in Mali and in April 2021 in Chad. Within the last three years, Central and West Africa have seen at least nine coup attempts, with most being successful. This area has even earned the moniker “Coup Belt” in English.

The Implications: Western nations, notably the United States and France, are concerned. Here’s why:

A Brief Overview of Niger:

1. Niger is located in western Africa and is landlocked.

2. Niger shares borders with seven countries: Libya, Chad, Algeria, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Benin.

3. The country is named after the Niger River, which flows for over 4000 km.

4. This river is the third longest in Africa, after the Nile and Congo.

5. Niger’s population exceeds 25 million, with 98% being Muslims.

6. Among the Muslims, 93% are Sunni and 7% Shia.

7. The currency used is the West African Franc; 1 Indian Rupee equals more than 7 Francs.

8. The capital of Niger is Niamey, which is also the largest city and hosts the Indian embassy.

9. Historical anecdote: Niger was  accused by the US and Britain of selling uranium to Saddam Hussein during the Iraq war build-up.

Historical Context:

Niger became a colony of France in 1922 and gained its independence in 1960. Since then, the nation has seen a series of coups and shifts between military and civilian rule. The most recent was on 18th February 2010 when the military ousted President Mohamed Tandja. In 2011, Niger held elections, and Mohamed Issoufou became the President.

However, the stability was short-lived. On 26th July 2023, the military executed its fourth coup, nullifying the constitution and consolidating power. President Mohamed Bazoum was arrested. The military has called for non-interference from other countries.

Why the West is Concerned:

1. Uranium Interests: France relies on Niger for uranium, vital for its energy needs.

2. Terrorism: The region has become a stronghold for ISIS terrorists. With instability, the threat to Europe and the US increases.

3. Immigration Control: Niger plays a role in controlling the flow of illegal immigrants into Europe through the Sahara.

4. Military Bases: France had set up military bases in Niger to combat terrorism. The coup jeopardizes this arrangement.

5. The Wagner Group: This private military company is solidifying its foothold in Central and West Africa, taking contracts from countries with autocratic regimes.

With terrorist organizations like ISIS and Boko Haram strengthening in African countries, it’s essential to understand the importance of a robust democratic setup. The current state of nations like Niger provides a glimpse into the potential consequences of losing such a setup.

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