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NIGER JUNTA ACCUSES FRANCE AND ECOWAS OF PREPARING MILITARY INTERVENTION TO REINSTATE BAZOUM

Region of Concern: Niger

Written By Alina Papke; Edited by Elena Alice Rossetti

Date: September 10, 2023


Niger Map[1]


Event: On Sunday, September 10, Niger’s military junta accused France of preparing a military intervention against their leaders together with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).[2] This comes after the junta, which took power in the late July coup, declared the French military troops’ presence in Niger illegal. They revoked the diplomatic immunity of Sylvain Itte, French ambassador to Niger.[3] In anti-French protests, Niger’s population has demanded the departure of French forces.[4] As France supports the ousted President Bazoum and does not recognize the junta's rule, tensions have increased since the coup. France stands with ECOWAS in considering a possible military action to reinstate Bazoum.[5]


Significance: Niger’s junta will almost certainly consider French forces in Niger and surrounding countries an obstacle to stabilizing their rule. They will likely continue their narrative against France, presenting it as aggressive, to justify increased measures to expel French military forces. The junta’s pushing of anti-French narratives likely strengthens the population’s resentment towards France, very likely leading to further protests. There is a roughly even chance that protests will turn violent, likely leading to the destruction of public and private property. There is a roughly even chance violent protests will cause civilian or French casualties. There is a roughly even chance focusing on French troops will distract Niger’s officials from countering jihadi militants in the region. This likely gives them opportunities to strike, putting Niger’s military and civilian population at risk. Stability in the region will very likely further deteriorate, due to jihadi attacks and a likely resulting increase in internal displacement.


Recommendations: France should consider pulling out military forces to prevent immediate escalations and civilian casualties. They should relocate their forces to other West African states, jointly acting with ECOWAS. They should increase their cooperation to pursue former President Bazoum’s reinstatement. While not ruling out military action, France should, in coordination with regional and global allies, keep diplomatic channels open and stress they will remain so. ECOWAS should intensify its sanctions against Niger. The UN should support and add to economic sanctioning in exchange for ECOWAS allowing UN humanitarian aid, like food and medicine deliveries, into Niger so civilians will not carry the main weight of the sanctions.

 

[2] Niger junta accuses France of deploying troops for possible intervention, Reuters, September 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/macron-says-g20-declaration-not-victory-for-russia-2023-09-10/

[3] Niger military accuses France of deploying forces with view to 'intervention', France 24, September 2023, https://www.france24.com/en/africa/20230910-niger-military-accuses-france-of-deploying-forces-with-view-to-intervention

[4] Protests in Niger Call for French Forces to Leave After Coup, Voice of America, September 2023, https://www.voanews.com/a/protests-in-niger-call-for-french-forces-to-leave-after-coup-/7252041.html

[5] Niger junta accuses France of amassing forces for a military intervention after the coup in July, AP News, September 2023, https://apnews.com/article/niger-junta-french-military-intervention-ecowas-bazoum-08b3a8e8903b7520d320b20059219e71

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