Former President of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, who was recently ousted in a coup, has made a plea to the United States and the international community to assist in restoring constitutional order in the country. Writing in an opinion piece published by the Washington Post, Bazoum expressed that he was writing “as a hostage.” He warned that the coup could lead to increased Russian influence in the region through the Wagner Group, which already operates in neighboring countries.
Niger’s West African neighbors have issued a warning of potential military intervention in response to the coup. Last Thursday, the coup leaders announced the withdrawal of Niger’s ambassadors from France, the US, Nigeria, and Togo, stating that their functions had been terminated. The move was met with criticism, including from Niger’s ambassador to the US, Kiari Liman-Tinguiri, who urged the junta to reconsider their actions.
Niger, a significant producer of uranium essential for nuclear power, had been a crucial Western ally in the fight against Islamist militants in the Sahel region during Bazoum’s presidency. In his article, Bazoum highlighted the devastating consequences the coup could have for the country, the region, and the world, emphasizing the importance of upholding democratic values and the rule of law in combating poverty and terrorism.
The situation in Niger has drawn concern due to the alleged links between the coup leaders and the Russian mercenary group Wagner, which is known for its activities in the region. While there is no indication that Wagner was directly involved in the coup, the group’s leader reportedly hailed the event as a triumph. Notably, the Russian government has called for the reinstatement of the deposed president.
The military takeover has garnered international condemnation from entities such as the EU, the UN, and the US. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed the commitment to restoring Niger’s democratically elected government during a conversation with President Bazoum.
Niger, situated in the Sahel region plagued by jihadist activities and military coups, has been seen as a relatively stable example compared to its neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso. It hosts military bases operated by France and the US in the ongoing efforts to combat Islamist insurgents.
President Bazoum’s government had also been a partner in European initiatives to curb the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean Sea, cooperating in the return of migrants from Libyan detention centers and cracking down on human trafficking.