AFRICA/NIGER - Sanctions against coup plotters extended: “The people of Niger are prepared to sacrifice their economy for nationalist pride”

Tuesday, 12 December 2023 military   coup   sanctions  

Niamey (Agenzia Fides) - The sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (CEDEAO/ECOWAS) against Niger following the military coup of July 26 that deposed President Mohamed Bazoum have been extended (see Fides 27/7/2023). This was decided by the Community Summit on Sunday, December 10, 2023 in Abuja, the federal capital of Nigeria. At the summit in Abuja, Niger's presidency was assumed by the prime minister of deposed president Mohamed Bazoum. However, ECOWAS said the door remains open for dialogue with the military junta that has taken over leadership of Niger. A committee composed of the presidents of Benin, Togo and Sierra Leone will negotiate with Niger's military regime on commitments that must be implemented before possible easing of sanctions, ECOWAS Commission Chairman Omar Touray announced . Togo is among the countries most open to dialogue with the coup junta installed in Niamey. "Togo seems to want to 'normalize' the Nigerien coup junta in order to make it 'socially acceptable' in the eyes of other West African states," Rahmane Idrissa, researcher at Leiden University, tells Fides. "I don't think it will succeed because ECOWAS has adopted the 'democratic norm' since 2001, which is strongly supported by the current President of Nigeria, who does not want to negotiate with the coup plotters until they commit themselves in a certain and verifiable way with a precise timetable for a return to democracy. When I listen to the delegation that was sent from Niger to Togo, I do not have the impression that the coup plotters want to embark on this path," says Idrissa. According to Idrissa, the threatened military intervention that some member states of the Community of West African States have threatened against the Nigerien coup plotters was "a bad idea from the start and is now completely unrealistic." "They announced military action based on a false analysis of the situation in Niger," says the researcher. "They thought the ousted civilian government was popular and that an ECOWAS intervention would have popular support. But within a week they realized this was not the case. The mistake was made by Bola Tinubu, the President of Nigeria, who "hates military regimes so much that he believes everyone thinks like him. ECOWAS has maintained the threat of intervention to put pressure on the coup plotters, but it is now clear that this is an empty threat," says Idrissa. On the other hand, he adds, "they continue to maintain economic sanctions against Niger, which are currently not producing political results but are having a detrimental effect on the population. The sanctions are destroying Niger's economy. But the people of Niger are stubborn and are willing to sacrifice their economy for a nationalist pride that is ultimately misplaced. The State is struggling to pay its employees' salaries, prices have skyrocketed, but people are not putting pressure on the junta to negotiate with ECOWAS" concludes the Nigerian researcher. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 12/12/2023)