Unannounced Visit to Chad
Niger’s prime minister, appointed by the military, made an unexpected visit to neighboring Chad on Tuesday.
This visit comes as West African states consider possible military intervention to counter the coup in Niger.
Both the United States and Russia are encouraging diplomatic resolutions to the situation.
Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, a civilian selected by the military after President Mohamed Bazoum was overthrown, arrived in Chad for a “working visit.”
According to a Facebook post by the Chadian government, Zeine met Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, assuring “good neighbourliness and good fraternity” from Niger’s regime and a willingness to discuss matters while maintaining Niger’s independence.
Key Players and Recent Developments
Chadian President Deby, an influential figure in the unstable Sahel region, visited Niger’s capital shortly after the coup.
Images have surfaced showing him with the detained Bazoum and separately with General Salifou Mody, one of the coup leaders.
Zeine’s surprise visit followed news that military chiefs from ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) would gather to discuss potential intervention in Niger.
While military intervention could be risky, ECOWAS has also emphasized a preference for a diplomatic solution—a stance supported by the US.
International Calls for Diplomacy
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken highlighted diplomatic space, while Russian President Vladimir Putin urged for a “peaceful political and diplomatic” resolution to the crisis.
Shockwave and Regional Impact
President Bazoum’s 2021 election marked Niger’s first peaceful power transition since 1960.
The coup has sent shockwaves through West Africa, an area already reeling from military takeovers and jihadist insurgencies.
ECOWAS has imposed sanctions, while France, Germany, and the US have frozen their aid programs.
Mixed Signals and Legal Threats
Niger’s military regime has shown inconsistent intentions since the crisis began, expressing openness to diplomatic talks but also threatening to prosecute Bazoum for “high treason.”
This legal threat was met with strong condemnation from ECOWAS and the US, overshadowing ongoing talks between the regime and ECOWAS under the African Union.
Niger: Poor and Unstable
Niger, one of the world’s most impoverished and volatile nations, is situated in the Sahel.
Bazoum’s removal disrupts both French and US anti-jihadist strategies in the region. France had shifted its focus to Niger after withdrawing from Mali and Burkina Faso.
International concern is growing over the condition of Bazoum and his family, who have been detained since the coup. The current situation reflects Niger’s complex political environment and the ongoing challenges in the Sahel.
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