The countdown to large-scale conflict in Africa has begun. The French Foreign Minister stressed that Paris and Washington are committed to restoring democracy in Niger and that the two countries support Niger’s president, Mohamed Bazoum, and recognize him as the country’s president.
“I confirmed by phone to my American counterpart our support for the democratically elected president of Niger,” the French foreign minister said:
Shortly afterwards, the West African Nation of Benin along with Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Senegal announced that if the negotiations failed, they would send their Armed Forces to assist the ECOWAS military intervention against Niger’s military government.
There is practically no common point of contact for negotiations to succeed.
It is characteristic that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Benin, speaking on behalf of ECOWAS, used the phrase “liberation” against the junta in Niger.
The conflict could quickly spread to Mali and Burkina Faso.
The US State Department today raised the Travel Warning for Niger from Level 3: Reconsider Travel to Level 4: Do Not Travel. In addition, he ordered the immediate evacuation of the staff and their family members.
According to the French ambassador to Niger, the commander of Iran’s Al Quds force, General Qaani was on flight LN422 from Tripoli to Niger last night.
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Senegal will send troops to Niger: “This was the last straw”
Senegal will participate in a possible military intervention in Niger if the Organization of West African States (ECOWAS) decides to do so after the military coup in that country, Foreign Minister Aissata Tal Sal has announced.
Speaking to journalists, the head of Senegalese diplomacy invoked the international obligations that her country has undertaken towards ECOWAS and the fact that there are repeated coups in the region.
“For all these reasons, the Senegalese soldiers will go there,” he added.
Niger is one of 15 ECOWAS members and the Organization has given the military junta until Sunday to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum. He even warned that if this is not done, he may resort to violence. It should be noted that Niger is the fourth ECOWAS member to experience a military coup since 2020.
“Senegal is convinced that we have to stop these coups, that’s why we are going” to Niger, Tal Sal said. When asked why ECOWAS would send troops to Niger but not Mali, Guinea or Burkina Faso, the minister replied: “ To put it simply, because that was the last straw”.
The head of Niger rejected the ultimatum : “I do not give in to threats”
Niger’s new leader, General Abdourahmane Tiani, has described as “illegal, unjust and inhumane” the sanctions imposed on his country by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a week after the military coup.
In a televised speech, the self-proclaimed new leader of Niger declared that he will not succumb to international pressure and threats aimed at returning the ousted president, Mohamed Bazum, to power.
He therefore rejected the one-week deadline given to him.
ECOWAS led by Nigerian President Bola Tinubu imposed tough sanctions on Niger and gave the coup plotters an ultimatum until Sunday to restore Bazum to power.
The military intervention scenario “is the last option on the table, the last resort, but we must prepare for this eventuality,” said Abdul Fatta Musa, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs and Security Affairs.
Russian diplomacy called for “dialogue” to avoid “aggravation of the situation”, underlining that the “threat to use force against a sovereign state will not contribute to de-escalation of tension and resolution of the crisis”.
Niger: ECOWAS delegation left for Niamey
A delegation of the Organization of West African States (ECOWAS) has left for Niamey to negotiate with the military that overthrew Niger’s president last week.
Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who also holds the presidency of ECOWAS, asked the delegation to “do everything” to resolve the crisis in Niger “amicably”.
He also said he had formed another delegation, led by a Nigerian diplomat, to discuss the situation in Niger with the leaders of Libya and Algeria. He tasked both delegations “to do whatever is necessary to ensure an amicable and final solution to the problem in Niger in the interest of peace and development in Africa”.
All French Channels in Niger Ended – Their Signal Dropped
The new authorities of Niger proceeded to suspend the operation of the radio France 24 TV and RFI in Niger, causing the strong reaction of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“France reiterates that it is unwaveringly and decisively in favor of freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the protection of journalists,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The two channels stopped broadcasting in Niger this afternoon, according to AFP reporters in Niamey.
A senior Niger official told AFP that both had their insignia cut ” by order of the new military authorities” in the country.
At the same time, France asked “the forces of the Nigerien order to take the necessary measures to guarantee that the security of foreign diplomatic activities in Niamey, in particular those of France, will be fully guaranteed” during the demonstrations scheduled to take place today.
“As several requests have been made for demonstrations on August 3, France recalls that the security of diplomatic operations and missions is an obligation under international law and especially the Vienna Conventions,” the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs underlines .
A violent demonstration against the French embassy in Niamey last Sunday led the French government on Tuesday to launch an operation to remove its citizens.
During this demonstration, which took place a few days after the military coup against Nigerian President Mohamed Bazoum, pro-coup protesters, chanting anti-French slogans, attempted to enter the French embassy.
The French foreign ministry had also argued that the airspace was closed and that the French could not leave the country by their own means. The border has since partially reopened.
At the same time, the British Embassy in Niamey announced today that it will temporarily reduce its staff due to the security situation in Niger, according to a statement issued by the British Foreign Office.
“There has been a military takeover in Niger, which has led to protests and unrest,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The group that organized the July 30 demonstration (M62) has called for another protest (today) Thursday, August 3, Niger’s Independence Day. Protests can be violent and the situation could change quickly, without warning,” notes the British Foreign Office.