By Mario Bowden and Nozhin Valeriy
Published 08/07/2023 – 07:30
Russian flags fly in front of the French embassy in the Niger capital showing the geopolitical winner after the coup.
Moscow disputes influence in Africa with China, the United States and the European Union; and presses with the Wagner mercenary group in the Sahel region.
And after the July 26 military coup against constitutional president Mohamed Bazoum, the fate of the former French colony remains unclear.
The Wagner group would be willing to help the coup plotters
Alex Vines, director of the Africa department at the British think tank Chatham House, assures that: “Russia is looking for opportunities in the region. It is already very engaged in Mali in partnership with the junta there. (…) And although Russia, through his foreign minister, Mr. Lavrov, has condemned the coup in Niger and called for the return of constitutional order, and Russia also supported a UN Security Council statement to that effect on Friday In the past, the member foundation of the Wagner mercenary group, Mr. Prigozhin, has welcomed the coup, saying it is a movement against neo-colonial imperialism and offers his support to the coup plotters in Niamey.”
The Economic Community of West African States has warned Niger’s military junta that it either cede power on Sunday, August 6, or face extreme sanctions and possible use of force.
But some analysts see greater threats to Niger in jihadist fanaticism that could strike again taking advantage of the confusion after the coup.
Lauriane Devoize, visiting professor at the European Council on Foreign Relations, assures that “what is at stake is regional (…) any political destabilization would help the jihadists to progress at some point (…) And Niger has a central place for jihadism to use from Mali or Burkina or even Libya.”
Stability and peace under President Bazoum was considered by the West as a balm in Africa.
Niamey worked with Paris and other European allies to curb Islamist radicalism and unauthorized immigration.
Devoize, associate member of the European Council on Foreign Relations explains : “Niger is a key ally for all Europeans involved in the Sahel. You have Germany present, Belgium, Italy (…) And what is interesting in Niger, it also represents what the European Union wants to do with Africans in these challenges”.
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