African Union Firmly Rejects Military Force in Niger – Support for Military Junta Grows

African Union Chairman Bola Tinubu

In a pivotal development, the African Union has firmly rejected the employment of military force in Niger, following an intense 10-hour session of its peace and security council. The incident, as reported by Le Monde on Wednesday and based on accounts from present diplomats, is poised to significantly bolster the military junta that successfully ousted President Mohamed Bazoum on January 26. This decision effectively diminishes the prospects of a military intervention by Niger’s neighboring West African nations.

“Rising Support for Military Junta Amid African Union’s Rejection of Force in Niger”

Last week, the ECOWAS regional bloc voted to assemble a “standby force” with the aim of reinstating constitutional democracy in Niger. The upcoming gathering of the group’s military leaders in Accra, Ghana, for preliminary strategizing underscores the urgency of the situation.

The recent session of the A.U.’s peace and security council convened to determine the endorsement of the ECOWAS initiative, was marked by tension and endurance, with sources indicating it lasted more than 10 hours, according to Le Monde.

While the council opted against military action, it concurrently resolved to suspend Niger’s membership in the African Union, as outlined in the report.

The implications of the African Union’s diplomatic withdrawal in relation to the potential success of an ECOWAS intervention to restore Bazoum to power remain uncertain. The military junta, led by Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, a product of U.S. training, has declared intentions to charge Bazoum with high treason and has even issued threats of his demise should military intervention transpire.

Amid these developments, Hassoumi Massoudou, an official from the foreign ministry, lamented the situation, expressing concern that certain elements are dragging the country backward. This sentiment was shared on social media: “Otherwise, how to understand that robbers want to judge their hostage?”

However, observers posit that Tchiani’s military leadership is progressively gaining an advantage. By defying regional and international pressures, seeking assistance from Russia, and leveraging Niger’s strategic role in U.S. anti-terrorism operations within the African Sahel region, the junta is asserting its dominance.

Recent actions by the junta include the appointment of a new cabinet and prime minister, accompanied by a call to supporters for assistance in thwarting potential invasions.

Amsarou Bako, a founder of Volunteers for the Defense of Niger, acknowledged the inevitability of the situation, emphasizing preparedness for any eventuality. “We need to be ready whenever it happens,” he conveyed to The Associated Press.

While demonstrations in support of the imprisoned President Bazoum have emerged in Tahoua and Niamey, the capital, gauging public sentiment proves challenging for experts. Nicholas Cheeseman, a democracy professor at the University of Birmingham, highlighted the absence of reliable data, underscoring the need for more critical engagement.

Nicholas Cheeseman, known for his work “How to Rig an Election” published in 2018, stressed the information gap, asserting that many assumptions are made with limited understanding.

Africa Confidential’s report of protests in favor of Bazoum in various parts of Niger, including the capital brimming with junta forces, underlines the evolving situation. The tightening hold of the junta contrasts with the scarcity of reporting in Niger’s provinces, potentially shaping international perceptions based on the mood in the capital.

Overall, the complex interplay of regional politics, military assertiveness, and public sentiment shapes the unfolding narrative in Niger.

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