Niger Republic: Coup D’État Or Calls For Liberation?

Wednesday 26th July, 2023 has become a history day yet to be identify as a heroic turn of government or a call for liberation by many political analyst. On this day soldiers from Niger’s presidential guard deposed the democratically elected president Mohammed Bazoum due to rising insecurity and lack of economic growth as claimed by the military junta under the Leadership of General Abdourahamane Tchiani though he recently mentioned that he would relinquish power within three years and warned that any intervention by foreign forces would not be a walk in the park. Recall that President Bazoum was elected Nigerien President in February 2021 but assumed office in April 2021 after a tough election season. Bazoum secured 55.75 percent of the votes cast ,beating former President Mahamane Ousmane who only gathered 44.25 percent. It will also be of interest to note that during this election no presidential candidate received a majority of the vote during the first round, so evidently a second round was held on 21st February seeing President Bazoum emerge as the new democratically elected President amid widespread rejection from the opposition party.

Niger Republic is a country located in the Sahel region of West Africa with an estimated population of 25,396,840. It is a predominantly muslim society and also a landlocked country in west Africa but also rich in mineral resources such as Uranium. However, Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world according to multidimensional poverty index (MPI) report in 2023. This could be attributed to poor governance and leadership, high level of corruption, insecurity (Jihadist Insurgencies), Low literacy rate and it landlocked geographical nature. However, the Niger Republic could change the status quo if the political elites could be more sincere in their dealings with the countries mineral resources such as Uranium ore and new found Crude oil.

In the same light, it will be important to note that Niger Republic has experience five military coup d’etat since the country gained independence from France in 1960 but this current situation is the first since 2020 thinking the country has out grown coup in their democracy but this could be expected with the current political and economic realities within the country. The dilapidated economy and progressive insecurity amidst efforts made by local and international parties prompted the military under the command of General Tchiani who is the commander general of the presidential guard. He like other military Junta in Guinea, mali, and Burkina Faso proclaimed himself the leader of the new military Junta. These actions saw a swift border closure and suspension of the state institution and a declaration of curfew.

In the meantime this action has been widely condemned by the United States, France (Niger’s former colonial master) and the West Africa regional bloc Ecowas. Recall that ECOWAS threatened military action against the Junta if president Bazoum was not reinstated as president while given a 7 days ultimatum, although this strategy has never worked in period of chaos in any country since the coup was a bloodless one but the junta agve deaf ears to this ultimatum.

To date the military Junta are still in office and have even constituted a government with General Tchiani as head of transitional government, naming 21 ministers led by Prime Minister Ali Lamine  Zeine. While some may think the country is on the right path, it should be noted that Niger is a poor, undeveloped state still battling with strong economic sanctions imposed by its regional bloc (ECOWAS), capable of asphyxiating the Junta administration. However, a series of questions by those who try to interrogate the factors that birthed such a political crisis in Africa are:

  • Why is the revolt against elected regimes?
  • What or who is responsible for the resurgence of coup d’etats in the west African sub region?
  • What is the attitude of the elite to respect of the rule of law and civil rights of the citizens which are the cardinal principles of democracy?

Although there is a strong anti French sentiment in most French ex-colonies because many feel France has been exploiting its former colonies economically even after their independence, the real enemies of Africa stalling its development and growth are its political elites from top to bottom. Similarly, while a transitional government seems to have been activated in Niger which appeared to be supported by its citizens. ECOWAS has activated a standby force for possible Niger intervention declaring a peaceful restoration of democracy in the country though the West African heads of state have said all options including the use of force remained on the table to restore constitutional order in Niger against the will of a large majority of Nigeriens.

In conclusion, political analysts are currently in a state of dilemma because the overthrow of the democratic government in Niger recorded zero bloodshed and civil unrest which could be termed “Niger Liberation Plan” instead of a coup d’etat.

Adewale Daniel Omojowo
Together we can make it happen. Say No to violence