Niger military coup: ECOWAS calls for restoration of democratic order

Niger military coup: ECOWAS calls for restoration of democratic order

Regional and international groups have thrown their support behind Niger President Mohamed Bazoum, ousted Wednesday (26 July) in a military coup, with analysts saying the coup attempt was not entirely surprising and could eventually turn out to be short-lived.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Thursday 27 July joined the chorus of those calling for Bazoum’s reinstatement as the democratically elected president. The United States also condemned the coup, and reiterated its support for Bazoum, who remains in detention in the presidential palace. France’s Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said on Friday (28 July) that the power grab in Niger was not definitive and that those responsible still had time to accede to international demands  that the ousted president be reinstated, adding that ECOWAS countries were likely to meet soon with a discussion on imposing sanctions possible.

Niger, located in the restive Sahel region, has been battling Islamist militants and France, which has been helping in that fight, has about 1,500 soldiers there.

Meanwhile, analysts say the West African nation has a history of political upheaval, as there have been four successful coups and numerous attempted coups since Niger won independence from France in 1960. In a region that has recently seen a wave of coups in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, Niger has been able to hold on to democratic stability since Bazoum came to power.

But according to Abdourahmane Alkassoum, an expert on the Sahel, if this coup attempt is successful, this could affect the whole region. “If Niger falls, it’s all ECOWAS that falls, and all the Sahel that falls, and if we are not careful the same way the other countries with military dictatorships have fallen into total insecurity, that’s not excluded [for us],” said Alkassoum.

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