There’s a crisis happening in Niger, a country in West Africa
Recently, the military in Niger took over the government in a move called a “coup.” This means they seized control from the elected president, Mohamed Bazoum. The military leader, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, declared himself the new leader. This is the seventh time in West and Central Africa since 2020 that the military has taken over the government.
Niger is a big country with many challenges. It’s very poor and has struggled with things like bad weather and not enough food. It used to be a French colony until 1960. After that, there were many times when the country faced instability and military takeovers. Also, terrorist groups and violence have been problems in the region.
Why the Coup Happened:
The military said they took over because they thought the situation in Niger was getting worse. They talked about security issues (like fighting terrorists) and problems with how the country was being run economically. The military also closed borders and put a curfew in place.
Impact on Niger and the Region:
The coup is a big concern for Niger and its neighbors. Niger used to be seen as a stable country compared to its neighbors, which had faced their own problems, like military takeovers. The international community, including groups like the African Union and the European Union, has criticized the coup. They want the military to give back power to the elected government.
There’s also talk of Russia getting involved in the crisis, mainly through a group called Wagner. Wagner has soldiers in a few countries like the Central African Republic, Mali, and Libya. They’re not always loyal and work for profit, helping governments and rebels alike to exploit natural resources like gold and oil. They use the support of the Russian government to make themselves seem like benign partners. Some people in Niger have been waving Russian flags during protests.
A positive outcome could be that African countries no longer accept coups as normal. Regional organizations like ECOWAS are stepping in to prevent this kind of takeover. The leaders understand that allowing democratically elected governments to be overthrown disrupts progress and stability.
Overall, the situation in Niger is serious. The military took control from the elected government, which has caused problems at home and worries in the international community. It’s part of a larger pattern of instability in the Sahel region, which includes many countries in West Africa.
A “coup belt” has formed across Africa, running through the Sahel region that divides the northern and southern parts of the continent.
The Sahel region, home to Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal, has witnessed political instability and ethnic tensions. This has happened nine times in West and Central Africa since 2020.
Niger has more than 80% of its land area lying in the Sahara Desert. It holds the title of being the largest country in West Africa, with a size that’s approximately twice that of France. After being a French colony, Niger achieved its independence in 1960. Following its independence, the country went through a period of instability and saw several military coups. Niger ranks among the world’s poorest nations and faces various challenges tied to poverty, lack of food security, and lack of development. Despite its struggles, Niger possesses valuable natural resources, including reserves for gold mining and a significant portion of the world’s uranium production.