AFRICA/NIGER - "Niger is a mirror of the international community"

Monday, 21 August 2023 coup   military  

Niamey (Agenzia Fides) - "Even a military coup still in progress can highlight, as in a mirror, the roles and characters of the drama taking place in Niamey and elsewhere", writes to Fides Fr. Mauro Armanino, missionary of the Society of African Missions (SMA) who remained in Niamey after the July 26 military coup. "A mirror, by its very vocation, reflects our image and, precisely for this reason, appears as the reflection of who we are. Days go by, from 26 July until today and we, citizens by choice in Niger, see the protagonists and actors of the coup d'etat parade on the stage. We have become, in spite of ourselves, revealing mirrors of our and their true face. There is no doubt: "The face is the mirror of the 'soul', wisdom once said. The first reality that appears in the current crisis is that of Niger's resources. It is not uranium, gold, gas, oil or other similar riches that arouse the appetite of multinationals. The great "resource" of the country, highlighted once again, is the people. The capacity to exist because it resists the regimes, the coups d'etat on the Constitution which far preceded that of July 26th. We call it resilience, when we should call it the dignity that allows us to go through the worst adversities that a people can imagine. Recurrent famines, stability of poverty in political instability, insecurity at the borders, and then the reaction to years of forced silence after the electoral manipulations of the potentates of the time. The people in question, that is to say those who have nothing left to lose and who demand respect and listening, have taken back their word, which had been confiscated for a long time. This event is the true name of informal democracy. This is what the mirror has revealed about the people so far. The other face, quite gloomy, which has come to light in Niger in recent days is that of the international community. Until a few years ago, Niger did not exist at all on the media maps and in the chancelleries of those who matter in the world. We have never talked so much about Niger as since last July 26! The same international community, so rightly attentive to the living conditions of the president taken hostage by the military, does not seem as attentive and concerned about the "degrading" living conditions of a large part of the population. There are millions of people who have nothing and are nothing... "Tell me who you exclude and I'll tell you who you are", said a friend. Finally, in the series of characters that the mirror reveals, the reaction of the one who, at the political level, should express the feeling of the European Union and its vaunted attachment to human rights stands out. This representative of the Union in the Sahel does not represent the writer at all and has lived in Niger for 12 years. By the type of choice he has made so far, closeness with the people of Niger, he has at least as much right to speak as she does. According to him, the sanctions decreed in the aftermath of the coup and which lead to shortages of medicine, food and electricity are useful and effective because they would weaken the junta in power. This statement is aberrant for at least two reasons. The first is related to the cynicism of someone who, far and wide, has probably never experienced anything like this in his life. Food and medicine are essential to the life of the poor. One wonders if it would be the same if one of your relatives (or yourself) suffered from the deficiencies that you praise. The second reason, just as serious, is to think that, in the current coup process, the military junta is alone in charge of the transition. There are many citizens today who, in the wise madness of the moment, believe and hope that "another country is possible". (Agenzia Fides, 21/8/2023)