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Supporters of Niger’s coup march through the capital waving Russian flags and denouncing France

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NIAMEY, Niger — 1000’s of supporters of the junta that took over Niger in a coup earlier this week marched via the streets of the capital, Niamey, on Sunday waving Russian flags, chanting the identify of the Russian president and forcefully denouncing former colonial energy France.

Russian mercenary group Wagner is already working in neighboring Mali, and Russian President Vladimir Putin wish to develop his nation’s affect within the area, however it’s unclear but whether or not the brand new junta leaders are going to maneuver towards Moscow or persist with Niger’s Western companions.

Days after after mutinous troopers ousted Niger’s democratically elected president, uncertainty is mounting in regards to the nation’s future and a few are calling out the junta’s causes for seizing management.

The mutineers stated they overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum, who was elected two years in the past in Niger’s first peaceable, democratic switch of energy since independence from France, as a result of he wasn’t capable of safe the nation from rising jihadi violence. However some analysts and Nigeriens say that’s only a pretext for a takeover that’s extra about inside energy struggles than securing the nation.

“Everybody is wondering why this coup? That’s because no one was expecting it. We couldn’t expect a coup in Niger because there’s no social, political or security situation that would justify that the military take the power,” Prof. Amad Hassane Boubacar, who teaches on the College of Niamey, informed The Related Press.

He stated Bazoum needed to switch the pinnacle of the presidential guard, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, who additionally goes by Omar and is now accountable for the nation. Tchiani was loyal to Bazoum’s predecessor and that sparked the issues, Boubacar stated. The AP can not independently confirm his evaluation.

Whereas Niger’s safety scenario is dire, it’s not as unhealthy as neighboring Burkina Faso or Mali, which have even have been battling an Islamic insurgency linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. Final yr Niger was the one one of many three to see a decline in violence, based on the Armed Battle Location & Occasion Information Challenge.

Niger till now has been seen because the final dependable accomplice for the West in efforts to battle the jihadists in Africa’s Sahel area, the place Russia and Western nations have vied for affect within the combat in opposition to extremism. France has 1,500 troopers within the nation who conduct joint operations with the Nigeriens, and the USA and different European nations have helped prepare the nation’s troops.

Some participating in Sunday’s rally additionally warned regional our bodies who’ve denounced the coup to remain away. “I would like also to say to the European Union, African Union and ECOWAS, please please stay out of our business,” stated Oumar Barou Moussa who was on the demonstration.

“It’s time for us to take our lives, to work for ourselves. It’s time for us to talk about our freedom and liberty. We need to stay together, we need to work together, we need to have our true independence,” he stated.

Battle consultants say out of all of the nations within the area, Niger has probably the most at stake if it turns away from the West, given the hundreds of thousands of {dollars} of navy help the worldwide group has poured in. On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated the continued safety and financial preparations that Niger has with the U.S. hinged on the discharge of Bazoum — who stays underneath home arrest — and “the immediate restoration of the democratic order in Niger.”

France on Saturday suspended all growth help and different monetary help for Niger, the Overseas Ministry stated in a press release. “France demands an immediate return to constitutional order under President Mohamed Bazoum, who was elected by the Nigeriens,” it stated.

The African Union has issued a 15-day ultimatum to the junta in Niger to reinstall the nation’s democratically elected authorities. On Sunday, the West African regional bloc, referred to as ECOWAS, is holding an emergency summit in Abuja, Nigeria.

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