African Union issues ultimatum to Niger coup leaders

Lazy eyes listen


The African Union has given Niger’s military junta 15 days to disband and reinstate deposed President Mohamed Bazoum, threatening “punitive measures” if they do not.

The African Union Peace and Security Council decried the “alarming resurgence” of coups throughout the continent in a statement issued on Friday. The bloc demanded that the soldiers that deposed Bazoum “return immediately and unconditionally to their barracks and restore constitutional authority, within a maximum of fifteen (15) days.”

If the military does not cooperate, the council says it would take “necessary action, including punitive measures against the perpetrators.”

Bazoum was detained by members of his security detail on Wednesday, with top military officials later announcing that they had removed him from power and suspended all state institutions. General Abdourahamane Tchiani, who headed the Nigerien presidential guard since 2011, appeared on television on Friday declaring himself the new national leader.

The coup comes after two successful military takeovers in Burkina Faso last year, as well as coup attempts in Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Sao Tome & Principe, and Sudan since the beginning of 2022. The turmoil in Burkina Faso and Mali coincided with the termination of France’s long-running anti-insurgency effort in the Sahel region, which had been deemed unsuccessful by locals.

Around 1,500 French troops remain in Niger, but their future deployment is uncertain following the ouster of Bazoum, who was supported by the French government.

French President Emmanuel Macron praised Bazoum as a “courageous leader,” saying Paris will support regional countries in imposing penalties on the coup plotters. The European Union suspended financial aid to Niger on Saturday, as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken threatened to cut off Washington’s “substantial” aid to the country.

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the coup a “anti-constitutional act.”

Tchiani’s men have shown no signs of relenting. Following a meeting with government servants on Friday, senior junta official Gen. Mohamed Toumba told reporters that “the message given was not to stop the processes that are underway, but to keep on with things,” and that “everything that must be done will be done.”