The EU terminated its financial and security assistance to Niger and said it would not recognise the coup perpetrators that removed the country’s legitimately elected president.
West African nations imposed sanctions and threatened to use force if Niger’s coup leaders failed to restore ousted President Mohammed Bazoum within a week.
EU and US reactions to the coup in Niger
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, demanded the “unconditional” release of President Mohamed Bazoum from custody.
Borrell made his comments at the same time that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged his country’s unwavering support for Bazoum.
Blinken stated that the United States’ support for Niger’s economy and security was clearly in jeopardy.
Niger, a former French colony, was regarded by Western nations as a crucial ally in the conflict with Sahelian Islamist militant organisations.
West Africa’s reaction to the coup
According to Euractiv, the eight-member West African Economic and Monetary Union and ECOWAS announced that they will immediately seal their borders with Niger, ban commercial flights, suspend financial transactions, freeze national assets, and stop providing aid.
The coup’s perpetrators’ assets would also be frozen, and they would be prohibited from travelling, it added.
Russia’s involvement in the coup
The US and the EU are working to oppose Russia’s influence in the region.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the boss of the Kremlin-affiliated mercenary organisation Wagner, has claimed to have helped the rebels and described the takeover as an anti-colonial freedom movement.
The coup was organised just before a summit between Russia and Africa, which Russian dictator Vladimir Putin was hosting in St. Petersburg.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, the African Union’s chair, denounced the acts of “certain members of the military” in Niger. The group demanded on Saturday that troops return to their positions within 15 days, according to the BBC.
On July 26, leaders of the coup said that it was necessary to act to stop the so-called continuing deterioration of the security situation and the nation’s dire economic and social governance. A curfew has been set, and borders have been closed.
Importance of Niger for the international community
Concerns have been raised that the coup could pave the way for more Russian involvement in Niger, which has been a crucial ally in Western battles against terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda and the Islamic State in the Sahel.
Following coups in those countries, thousands of French soldiers were compelled to leave adjacent Mali and Burkina Faso.
According to the World Bank, Niger is one of the world’s poorest nations and receives close to $2 billion in official development aid annually.
There are forces from the United States, France, Italy, and Germany engaged in military training and operations against Islamist rebels. Additionally, Niger is the seventh-largest producer of uranium, a radioactive metal used in nuclear energy and nuclear weapons.
Photo source: EPA