AFRICA/NIGER - A missionary to Fides: Coup d'état - "In Niamey the situation is calm at the moment"

Thursday, 27 July 2023 coup   military   missionaries  

Niamey (Agenzia Fides) - "Following the announcement of the "coup" during the night, everything is calm in the streets. Some wounded have been transferred to the national hospital, probably as a result of the shots fired by the Presidential Guard to dissuade the protesters around the house of President Bazoum", reports to Agenzia Fides Father Mauro Armanino, missionary of the Society of African Missions (SMA) in Niamey, the capital of Niger where yesterday, July 26, the Presidential Guard kidnapped President Mohamed Bazoum in the presidential palace.
"There is little traffic on the roads than usual also because a storm is underway in the city, after the 'usual' sandstorm that has obscured the morning sun for a while", continues Father Armanino. The missionary adds some considerations about the causes of what is happening. "We will see what happens next - he says - but now there are some elements to take into consideration". Among these are: "The dismantling of opposition political parties (whether desired or suffered ...) and the 'migration' of deputies to the presidential field reducing the institutional political space. As for civil society, it has been gradually enslaved to the presidential 'project', disappearing as an autonomous, critical and proactive entity. The suppression of the intellectual class, bought, sold or auctioned, has led to a thought vacuum that is difficult to fill. The presence of the numerous foreign military, including the bases, is not necessarily wanted by the population or by the Nigerian military itself". For his part, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Niger, Hassoumi Massoudou, has declared that his government represents the "legitimate and legal authorities". "The legal and legitimate power is exercised by the elected President of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum." The latter posted a message on Twitter in which he stated: “Hard-earned achievements will be safeguarded. All Nigerians who love democracy and freedoms will be taken care of." The coup militants claim to have the other units of the army and the police on their side, but for the moment the situation continues to appear fluid. In Niger, both France and the United States have major military installations with bases, troops, and drones. The European Union and Italy also have a military presence in the country, which is facing jihadist movements from Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria. For Paris, the country is strategic both because it represents the last bastion, along with Chad, of the French military presence in the Sahel (after the withdrawal of French contingents from Mali and Burkina Faso, two countries in which military coups overthrew civilian governments) as well as the Arlit uranium mines, fundamental to the French nuclear programme. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 27/7/2023)