In this interview, Jean-Hervé Jezequel, Crisis Group’s Project Director for the Sahel, highlights the international and regional response to the Niger coup, as well as potential ways forward.
West African regional bloc continued to threaten use of force to restore constitutional order; move could trigger major pushback and put Niger and wider region at risk of war.
ECOWAS maintained threat of force to restore constitutional order. Military junta 6 Aug closed Niger’s airspace as West African regional bloc (ECOWAS) seven-day ultimatum to hand power back to elected President Bazoum expired. ECOWAS 10 Aug activated standby force for possible action against junta and 18 Aug reportedly set “D-Day” for military intervention. Regional bloc, which appears divided over course of action, 19 Aug sent delegation to Niger to press coup leader Gen. Tchiani and other junta figures for peaceful return to constitutional order.
Coup leaders found common ground with counterparts in Sahel. Military authorities in Bamako and Ouagadougou 1 Aug jointly said any ECOWAS military intervention in Niger would amount to declaration of war against Mali and Burkina Faso. Senior junta leader, Gen. Salifou Mody, next day met with Malian and Burkinabe transitional presidents in their respective capitals. Coup leaders continued to capitalise on ill feelings toward former colonial power. Junta 25 Aug ordered French ambassador in Niamey, Sylvain Itte, to leave country within 48 hours; French President Macron 28 Aug said Itte would stay at his post, reportedly prompting junta in following days to order police to expel him.
Junta proposed three-year transition to civilian rule. Junta 7 Aug appointed former Finance Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine as interim PM, and 10 Aug announced 21-member interim govt with military officers in charge of six ministries, including defence and interior, and Bazoum’s party holding no ministries. Gen. Tchiani 19 Aug said transition to civilian rule would “not go beyond three years”; also warned ECOWAS that security forces would “not shirk” from defending country. ECOWAS 21 Aug rejected three-year transition plan as “unacceptable”.
Jihadists launched deadliest attacks on military in months. Possibly emboldened by political upheaval in Niamey, suspected jihadists 15 Aug ambushed military detachment near Koutougou town, Tillabery region (south west), killing 17 soldiers and wounding another 24. Another ambush 20 Aug killed 12 soldiers in Anzourou commune, also Tillabery, with military reporting “heavy losses” among assailants.
Why the U.S. government will find no easy answers in the Sahel's coup belt
On 26 July, high-ranking Nigerien officers announced on national television that they had overthrown President Mohamed Bazoum, who was democratically elected in 2021. In this Q&A, Crisis Group analysts lay out the reasons for the coup as well as the stakes going forward.
In this interview, Jean-Hervé Jezequel, Crisis Group’s Project Director for the Sahel, reflects on the ongoing crisis in the Sahel region, the struggle against expanding jihadist groups, and compares the approaches of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.
Insurgents have established bases in an important nature reserve spanning parts of Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. They pose a growing danger to local ecosystems and people living around the park. The three countries need to collaborate more closely to keep the threat at bay.
A spate of mass killings in Niger’s Tillabery region has raised the spectre of broader civil strife. Most worrying is the ethnic dimension to the crimes. Authorities should move quickly to prioritize civilian protection lest vigilantes take matters into their own hands.
In south-western Niger, organised banditry could reinforce mistrust between ethnic groups and foster insurgencies that jihadists could exploit. The Nigerien authorities should take action to remedy the injustices experienced by communities living off livestock, initiate intercommunal dialogues and better supervise fledgling self-defence groups.
Since 2013, when it sent troops to Mali, France has led international efforts to root out Islamist militancy from the Sahel. Yet the jihadist threat has grown. Paris and its partners should reorient their military-centred approach toward helping improve governance in the region.
Le Burkina Faso et le Niger se dirigent tous deux vers des élections générales. Rinaldo Depagne et Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim décryptent leurs enjeux et insistent sur la nécessité pour leurs vainqueurs de se pencher sur l’insécurité croissante dans les régions rurales, provoquée en grande partie par la présence de groupes jihadistes.
Crisis group's Sahel Senior Analyst Hannah Armstrong and Africa Deputy Program Director Dino Mahtani held a panel moderated by our Director for Africa Regional Advocacy Elissa Jobson, on the renewed spike in jihadist attacks in Niger’s Tillabery region and Niamey’s response to it.
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