Anticipating a critical juncture in ongoing political turmoil in Niger, West African leaders of the state are slated to convene on Thursday. The purpose of the meeting is to address the nation’s escalating crisis. The military junta defied a deadline set by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to reinstate the ousted president. However, the junta’s resistance to mediation efforts and shifting dynamics are pushing ECOWAS towards limited options. Moreover, raising concerns about the feasibility of military intervention.
As Niger’s junta continues to reject most diplomatic overtures, analysts have pointed to a notable uptick in Russian involvement within the country. Since the mutinous soldiers overthrew the democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum. Despite international calls for his reinstatement, Bazoum remains under house arrest and has refused to step down.
Amidst this backdrop, the junta unveiled a new government late on Wednesday. Of the 21 positions announced, over half were assigned to civilians, with the remaining being military appointments.
Niger’s Role in Countering Jihadi Violence
Niger has stood as a key partner for Western nations in countering jihadi violence linked to groups such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State in the Sahel region. The crisis has intensified as the international community grapples with finding a peaceful resolution to the leadership vacuum.
Security analyst Oladeinde Ariyo emphasized, “Any coup that has succeeded beyond 24 hours has come to stay. So, as it is, they are speaking from the point of strength and advantage.” Ariyo’s insight underscores the junta’s perceived position of strength, shaping negotiations on their terms.
Leading ECOWAS’s efforts, Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has taken the helm in addressing the crisis. Recently, a Nigerian delegation led by the Emir of Kano, Khalifa Muhammad Sanusi, engaged in talks with the junta’s leader, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani. Notably, the emir was among the few granted an audience with Tchiani.
Meanwhile, Acting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland attempted to engage with the coup leaders but was denied access to both Tchiani and Bazoum. Further compounding the situation, a delegation comprising representatives from ECOWAS, the United Nations. And the African Union was prevented from entering the country altogether.
This crisis underscores ECOWAS’s historical struggle to thwart coups within the region. Niger marks the fourth country among the 15-member state bloc to have undergone a coup in the past three years. As the meeting of West African leaders approaches, the balance between diplomatic efforts and potential intervention remains precarious in an increasingly complex scenario.