Global condemnation puts pressure on Niger coup leaders

The African Union issued a demand for Niger’s military to “return to their barracks and restore constitutional authority” within 15 days, while the EU increased pressure on the coup leaders by suspending security cooperation with the country, after a general declared himself president following a coup.

On Friday, General Abdourahamane Tiani, who has been leading the Presidential Guard since 2011, announced on state television that he is assuming leadership as the new head of the troubled West African country.

Since Wednesday, his forces have confined democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum to his official residence in the capital Niamey. Tiani justified the putsch as a response to the “degradation of the security situation” associated with militant violence.

The African Union and the European Union have joined the international community in denouncing the power grab, adding to the growing chorus of condemnation affecting the Sahel region.

Niger’s neighboring countries, Mali and Burkina Faso, have experienced two military coups each since 2020. These coups have been fueled by frustration over the inability to suppress ongoing insurgencies led by militant groups affiliated with the Islamic State and Al Qaeda.

“Demands the military personnel to immediately and unconditionally return to their barracks and restore constitutional authority, within a maximum period of fifteen (15) days”, AU’s Peace and Security Council said in a communique following a meeting Friday on the coup.

It “condemns in the strongest terms possible” the overthrow of the elected government and expressed deep concern over the “alarming resurgence” of military coups in Africa.

On Saturday, the EU’s diplomatic chief, Josep Borrell, declared that the bloc would not recognize the coup leaders and announced the suspension of security cooperation with Niger.

“The European Union does not recognise and will not recognise the authorities from the putsch in Niger,” Borrell said in a statement.

“All cooperation in the security field is suspended indefinitely with immediate effect” in addition to the end to budgetary aid, he added.

In a statement, it emphasized that Bazoum remains the sole legitimate president of Niger, and a demand was made for his immediate release. The statement also held the coup leaders accountable for ensuring the safety of him and his family.

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