Last Wednesday, a faction of the Nigerien army claimed to have overthrown the democratically elected president in 2021, Mohamed Bazoum, after detaining him in the palace.
In a Twitter post on Friday evening, Global Affairs Canada wrote that Ottawa reaffirms its support for President Bazoum and reiterates the call for his release.
Respect for democracy is essential to preserve cooperation efforts and stability in Niger, Ottawa said at the time, expressing support for the initiatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
This bloc of 15 African countries threatened on Sunday to sanction the leaders of the military junta and to send troops to Niger if President Bazoum was not restored to power within a week.
The United Kingdom and the European Union have cut their aid to this country and Washington is seriously considering it. The Canadian government has given no indication of its intention to cut development and humanitarian aid budgets in Niger, which amount to about $60 million a year.
The uproar in Niger is the latest in a series of coup attempts in the Sahel region, where the Islamic State armed group is recruiting militants and carrying out massacres. This political instability comes as the group of Russian mercenaries Wagner interferes in the countries of the region.
Trudeau met Bazoum in November
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last met with President Bazoum in November at the Francophonie Summit in Tunisia. He then hailed her leadership in progressive values like the inclusion of women and democracy, in a region where authoritarianism is on the rise.
President Bazoum pointed out that Canada had been less present in his country since the 1970s, when Ottawa was at the forefront of cooperation programs.
We had a little distance and we will work to make our ties even closer. said Mr. Bazoum in French on November 20, 2022.
Four countries are currently ruled by military governments in West and Central Africa, where there have been nine successful or attempted coups since 2020.
The Economic Community of West African StatesECOWAS announced on Sunday that all of its members would suspend trade and financial transactions with Niger and freeze the assets of regional central banks.
Economic sanctions could have a profound effect on Nigeriens, who live in a country with the third highest poverty rate in the world, according to the latest UN data. In addition, Niger depends on imports from Nigeria for the supply of up to 90% of its electricity, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.
Prime Minister in exile
The sanctions could be disastrous and Niger must find a solution to avoid them, the country’s Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou told Radio France Internationale (RFI) on Sunday. Mr. Mahamadou was abroad at the time of the coup and he was unable to return.
Niger is a continental country, a landlocked country, he told International Radio FranceRFI. So, when we say that there is an embargo, closure of land borders, closure of air borders, it is extremely difficult for the populations.
While it remains an unlikely threat and action, the consequences for civilians of such an approach would be catastrophic if the putschists chose confrontation. Morocco.
The bloc of 15 countries of the Economic Community of West African StatesECOWAS tried in vain to restore democracies in countries where the army had taken power in recent years.
In the 1990s, the Economic Community of West African StatesECOWAS intervened in Liberia during its civil war. In 2017, she intervened in The Gambia to prevent the new president’s predecessor, Yahya Jammeh, from disrupting the handover of power. About 7,000 troops from Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal entered, according to the Global Observatory, a body that provides analysis on peace and security issues.
If this regional bloc uses force, it could spark violence not only between Nigerien forces and the Economic Community of West African StatesECOWAS, but also between civilians who support the coup and those who oppose it, analysts say. nigerians.
Mr. Lyammouri also does not believe that a military intervention will take place, due to the violence that could trigger.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday congratulated the leaders of the Economic Community of West African StatesECOWAS for their defense of the constitutional order in Niger, after the announcement of the sanctions. He joined the bloc in demanding the immediate release of President Bazoum and his family.
This article is originally published on news.dayfr.com