October 4, 2023

By Sam Mednick | Related Press

NIAMEY, Niger — One week after a deadline handed for mutinous troopers in Niger to reinstate the nation’s ousted president or face army intervention, the junta has not acquiesced. No army motion has been taken and the coup leaders seem to have gained the higher hand over the regional group that issued the menace, analysts say.

The West African bloc ECOWAS had given the troopers that overthrew Niger’s democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum till final Sunday to launch and reinstate him or they threatened army motion. On Thursday, the bloc ordered the deployment of a “standby” drive to revive constitutional rule in Niger, with Nigeria, Benin, Senegal and Ivory Coast saying they might contribute troops.

However it’s unclear when, how or if the troops will deploy. The transfer may take weeks or months to set into movement, and whereas the bloc decides what to do the junta is gaining energy, some observers say.

“It appears to be like as if the putschists have gained and can keep … The putschists are holding all of the playing cards and have cemented their rule,” mentioned Ulf Laessing, head of the Sahel program on the Konrad Adenauer Basis, a suppose tank.

ECOWAS is unlikely to intervene militarily and danger dragging Niger into civil battle, he mentioned, including that ECOWAS and Western international locations would as an alternative possible press the junta to comply with a brief transition interval.

Europe and the USA may have little selection however to acknowledge the junta in an effort to proceed the safety cooperation within the area, Laessing mentioned.

The July 26 coup is seen as a serious blow to many Western nations, which seen Niger as one in every of its final companions within the conflict-riddled Sahel area south of the Sahara Desert that they may work with to beat again a rising jihadi insurgency linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. The U.S. and France have greater than 2,500 army personnel within the area and along with different European international locations have invested a whole bunch of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in army help and coaching Niger’s forces.

There was nonetheless little readability about what would occur days after ECOWAS introduced the “standby” drive deployment.

A gathering of the area’s protection chiefs was postponed indefinitely. The African Union is anticipated to carry a gathering on Monday to debate Niger’s disaster. The group’s Peace and Safety Council may overrule the choice if it felt that wider peace and safety on the continent have been threatened by an intervention.

The delay of the protection chiefs’ assembly to debate the “standby” drive reveals that ECOWAS views using drive as a final resort, mentioned Nate Allen, an affiliate professor on the Africa Heart for Strategic Research.

“Given the possible challenges an intervention would face, (using drive would) require a excessive diploma of consensus and coordination not simply inside ECOWAS, however inside the African Union and worldwide neighborhood writ massive,” he mentioned.

However these with ties to the junta say they’re making ready for a battle, particularly for the reason that troopers are unwilling to barter until ECOWAS acknowledges its chief, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, who overthrew the president, as the brand new ruler.

“ECOWAS is demanding that (the junta) instantly launch President Bazoum and restore him as head of state. Is that this a joke?” mentioned Insa Garba Saidou, an area activist who assists Niger’s new army rulers with their communications and says he’s in direct contact with them. “Whether or not Bazoum resigns or not, he won’t ever be Niger’s president once more.”

As time drags on, there’s mounting concern for the security of Bazoum, who has been underneath home arrest together with his spouse and son for the reason that coup. These near him say his state of affairs is deteriorating with no water, electrical energy and a scarcity of meals. Niger’s junta informed a prime U.S. diplomat that they might kill the deposed president if neighboring international locations tried any army intervention to revive his rule, two Western officers informed The Related Press.

Most Nigeriens are attempting to go about their lives because the standoff continues between the coup leaders and regional international locations.

For essentially the most half, the streets within the capital, Niamey, are calm with sporadic pockets of pro-junta demonstrations. Any pro-Bazoum demonstrations are rapidly silenced by safety forces.

On Sunday folks marched, biked and drove by way of downtown Niamey, chanting “down with France” and expressing anger at ECOWAS.

“Niger is in a deplorable state of affairs. We’re very comfortable there was a coup d’etat. Now everybody can go into the streets with out a drawback … (however) if ECWOAS permits folks to assault Niger, it is going to cross a purple line,” mentioned resident Saidou Issaka.

On Friday a whole bunch of individuals, many waving Russian flags, marched towards France’s army base demanding the French go away. Mercenaries from the Russian-linked Wagner group already function in a handful of different African international locations and are accused of committing human rights abuses. Earlier this month throughout a visit to neighboring Mali, which can be run by a army regime and cooperates with Wagner, the junta reportedly requested the mercenaries for assist.

Boubacar Adamou, a tailor within the capital, mentioned he had made no less than 50 Russian flags within the weeks for the reason that coup.

However many Nigeriens don’t have time for protests and are extra centered on feeding their households.

The nation of some 25 million folks is without doubt one of the poorest on the planet and the cruel journey and financial sanctions imposed by ECOWAS are taking a toll.

Moussa Ahmed, a meals vendor in Niamey, mentioned the costs of meals gadgets corresponding to cooking oil and rice had elevated by 20% for the reason that coup and there wasn’t sufficient electrical energy to energy the fridges in his store. Niger will get as much as 90% of its energy from neighboring Nigeria, which has lower off a few of its provide.

Support teams that have been already grappling with the challenges of serving to greater than 4 million folks in want of humanitarian help say the disaster will exacerbate an already dire state of affairs.