Mali Army, Burkina Faso Army & Russian Mercenary Enter Niamey To Defend Niger Military Junta

Niger has authorized Mali and Burkina Faso armed forces to intervene on its territory in case of an attack, the countries said in a joint statement on Thursday. This is a possible sign the junta in Niger plans to keep resisting regional pressure to stand down. The Junta Military leader Abdourahamane Tchiani on Thursday signed decrees that allow Malian and Burkina Faso troops to enter Nigerien territory to help avert a threat, Mali foreign ministry said in a statement.

According to the report, the announcement followed a visit to Niger by Mali foreign minister, Abdoulaye Diop, and his counterpart from Burkina Faso, Ragnaghnewende Olivia Rouamba. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been trying to negotiate with the coup leaders but warned it is ready to send troops into Niger to restore constitutional order if diplomatic efforts fail.

Meanwhile, the regional bloc has enacted stiff sanctions against Niger. Mali and Burkina Faso have stated that they would back Niger in any conflict with ECOWAS. On Thursday, the three allies’ foreign ministers said they had met in the Nigerien capital Niamey to discuss boosting cooperation on security and other joint issues.

The statement said the ministers welcomed the signing on Thursday by Niger junta leader General Abdourahamane Tchiani of two orders “authorizing the Defense and Security Forces of Burkina Faso and Mali to intervene on Nigerien territory in the event of an attack.”

“The Burkina Faso and Mali Ministers reiterated their rejection of an armed intervention against the people of Niger which will be considered as a declaration of war,” it stated.

However, the Russian mercenary group has arrived in Mali, along with soldiers armed with ammunition. The group claims that its presence in Mali aims to assist the Mali military government in combating terrorists and pursuing other interests, as reported by Al-Jazeera.

Mali and Burkina Faso, both ruled by military juntas, have expressed support for the coup in Niger and have criticized the sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) following the coup. They have vowed to stand with Niger against any potential use of force against the junta. To demonstrate their commitment, these nations have reportedly deployed troops to Niamey as a backup for the Niger military.

ECOWAS has rejected the three-year transition plan proposed by Niger coup leader General Abdourahamane Tchiani, maintaining the possibility of employing force if diplomatic negotiations fail. The junta has adamantly stated that it will not heed ECOWAS’ position. The Wagner presence in Mali, which shares a lengthy border with Niger, is believed to provide support for the junta. The coup leaders had requested assistance from Wagner, and confirmed his team readiness to offer support.

A former Russian official alleged that Wagner and the Russian state conspired to facilitate the military coup in Niger. Russian military blogger Mikhail Zvinchuk, also known as “Rybar,” claimed that the recent military coup in Niger was carried out in close cooperation with Russian special services and Private Military Company consultants.”

The junta took control recently, overthrowing President Mohamed Bazoum’s government and confining him to house arrest in the Presidential Palace in Niamey. ECOWAS Envoy to Niger Republic, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, expressed optimism that the situation is unlikely to worsen. He spoke with reporters after a meeting with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government.

Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, a former Head of State, mentioned that he conveyed the junta’s peace terms to ECOWAS, and communication between the regional bloc and Niger’s military rulers is ongoing. He emphasized that his role as envoy has fostered productive communication. President Tinubu will consult with colleagues regarding the next steps.

The African Union (AU) froze Niger’s membership and supported ECOWAS’ efforts to reinstate democratic governance. The junta intends to restore constitutional rule within three years, a plan that West African nations have rejected.

However, a famous Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi, has warned that some policies of the present administration led by President Bola Tinubu are capable of destroying the nation if not revised. In a 22-second video clip posted on his official Facebook page, Gumi stated that if those tough policies are not reversed, it may destroy even the government.

He urged the president to consult experts before implementing certain policies, saying he should not depend on sycophants. According to his words; “President Tinubu, you have to revise your policies; if not they are going to destroy the nation and they are also going to destroy your government. Your political and economic policies, you have to review them. You have to ask people who know better and don’t depend on these sycophants,” he stated.

However, the Niger military administration on Friday gave the German, US and Nigerian ambassadors 48 hours to leave the country, another to reports from Anadolu Agency. “In reaction to German Ambassador Olivier Schnakenberg’s refusal to reply to an invitation by the ministry for a discussion on Friday August 25, 2023 at 11.00 a.m., and due to other actions of the German government contrary to Niger’s interests, the ministry is giving 48 hours to Mr. Olivier Schnakenberg’s to leave the Nigerien territory.”

“In reaction to Nigerian Ambassador Mohamed Usman refusal to reply to an invitation by the ministry for a discussion on Friday August 25, 2023 at 11.30 a.m, and due to other actions of the Nigerian government contrary to Niger’s interests, the ministry is giving 48 hours to Mr. Mohamed Usman to leave the Nigerien territory,” the report stated. The military also gave the new US ambassador 48 hours to leave.

US Ambassador Kathleen Fitzgibbons, who arrived in the national capital of Niamey last week, was accused of failing to honor an invitation by the ministry for a discussion earlier in the day. The State Department said last week that Kathleen FitzGibbon was to lead a US diplomatic mission and bolster efforts to help resolve the political crisis. Niger’s military administration earlier gave the French ambassador 48 hours to leave the country. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna sent an August 8, 2023 note to express solidarity with Nigerien Ambassador in Paris Aichatou Boulama Kane who refused to leave her position after the military administration took power. Niger was plunged into turmoil on July 26, 2023 when Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani, a former commander of the presidential guard, led a military intervention that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.

Austine Ikeru
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