Niger: ultimatum expired - now what?

The coup plotters in Niger have let an ultimatum from the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) to reinstate democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum by Sunday and reverse the dissolution of constitutional institutions elapse. The junta has closed the country’s airspace instead. Will Ecowas now go ahead with its threat of military intervention?

La Repubblica (IT) /

The ball is in Nigeria’s court

La Repubblica explains:

“The operation will need the basic support of Nigeria, the giant in the region with 214 million inhabitants and a large army (and a 1500-kilometre-long border with Niger). President Bola Tinubu is determined to stop the coup plotters. But on Saturday, the Nigerian Senate rejected military intervention. ... The president can override the vote, and he intends to do so. The constitution stipulates that the army can fight abroad without Senate approval if there is an ‘immediate risk or danger’, which is what Tinubu sees in the coup in Niger, considered ‘one coup too many’ after those in three other countries in the Sahel (Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea) in the past three years.”

Leonardo Martinelli
taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Intervention would be too risky

Military intervention would be fatal, the taz warns:

“Niger’s coup is a result of internal problems that cannot be solved from the outside, especially not by its big neighbour Nigeria with its own history of military coups. ... In the case of a Nigerian military intervention in Niger, two armies with historically bad reputations would wage war on the backs of all these people. The human suffering would be immense, the risk of nationalist pogroms would be high and could spread very quickly to other countries in West Africa.”

Dominic Johnson
Causeur (FR) /

Staying out of this is not an option

France must take action, writes columnist Pierre d’Herbès in Causeur:

“It’s in France’s interest to act quickly before its strategic competitors — Russia or the US — do so in its place. After suffering many defeats and imponderables in recent years, France cannot afford to just to allow itself to remain a spectator. But the government seems paralysed by the accusation of colonialism that direct intervention could draw. ... Anti-French sentiment is a reality, but it is not representative of the entire population. ... Ultimately, France’s military intervention alongside Ecowas is necessary, otherwise it will be the loser, whatever the scenario.”

Pierre d’Herbès
Jutarnji list (HR) /

The West must change its strategy

After another coup in West and Central Africa the international community should carefully weigh its response, Jutarnji list warns:

“It is watching the situation in Niger with concern, aware that the consequences of the coup will be felt far beyond West Africa’s borders. ... The most important question is whether the Western countries will learn their lesson and change their approach to interfering in African affairs under the pretext of bringing peace and democracy. For African countries are unhappy with international reactions to the coups d’état, especially when they hear that their partners prioritise the security of their own countries instead of bringing those responsible for corruption, criminality and nepotism to book.”

Iva Badanjak
De Volkskrant (NL) /

Europe losing another important ally

The EU cannot afford to lose influence in the Sahel, warns De Volkskrant:

“Europe needs the Sahel: for raw materials, to get migration under control and in the fight against jihadists. With the coup in Niger, Europe is once again losing a crucial ally. ... Europe conquered the world and lost it again with decolonisation. In the 1990s it lost interest in Africa, which was seen as a lost continent. But in an insecure world, Africa, and especially the Sahel, has once again become a crucial hub. Europe is still Africa’s biggest trading partner and investor. But it must fight to maintain its influence in its former ‘possessions’. Its colonial past is catching up with it.”

Peter Giesen