Niger’s deposed ex-president calls on West for help, as junta threatens to respond to any ‘aggression’
Elected Niger President Mohamed Bazoum has called on “the US government and the entire international community to help us restore our constitutional order,” as the newly installed junta announced they were scrapping military pacts with France and warned to respond ‘immediately’ to any ‘aggression’ by the West Africa bloc.
In a column entitled ‘My Country Is Under Attack and I’ve Been Taken Hostage’ published (3 August) in The Washington Post, Bazoum said that if a coup attempt to depose him is successful, “it will have devastating consequences for our country, our region and the entire world.” The appeal was Bazoum’s first lengthy statement since his presidential guard detained him on 26 July and took control of the Niger government. “This coup must end, and the junta must free everyone they have unlawfully arrested,” he wrote. He also warned that Niger’s neighbors have increasingly invited in “criminal Russian mercenaries such as the Wagner Group at the expense of their people’s rights and dignity.” “The entire Sahel region,” he said, “could fall to Russian influence via the Wagner Group, whose brutal terrorism has been on full display in Ukraine.”
Meanwhile, Niger’s coup leaders on the same day announced they were scrapping military pacts made between their country and France. “Faced with France’s careless attitude and its reaction to the situation”, the “National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland decided to scrap the cooperation agreements in the field of security and defense with this state,” one of the putschists said in a statement read out on television. The coup leaders also said they were also ‘terminating’ the mandates of ambassadors to four countries, namely France, Nigeria, Togo and the United States, as they face international pressure to restore the democratically elected leader they ousted last week. Moreover, three days before the expiry of an ultimatum to restore order given by regional bloc ECOWAS, Niger’s putschists also warned they would respond immediately to any “aggression or attempted aggression,” but “with the exception of […] friendly countries,” alluding to neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali.