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Friday, September 29, 2023

Leading politician says victory for Niger’s coup leaders would be ‘the end of democracy’ in Africa

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NIAMEY, Aug 18 (AP): If mutinous soldiers who ousted Niger’s president succeed, it will threaten
democracy and security across the region and the continent, a high-ranking member of Bazoum’s
political party warned in an interview with The Associated Press.
Boubacar Sabo said President Mohamed Bazoum had been “kidnapped” by members of the
presidential guard who overthrew him on July 26 and have since kept him under house arrest.
“What is happening in Niger, if it succeeds, is the end of democracy in Africa. It’s over. … If we fight
today, it is to prevent these kind of things from happening and to ensure a future for our continent,”
Sabo said on Thursday. Sabo is deputy secretary general of Bazoum’s Nigerien Party for Democracy
and Socialism.
A human rights group in Niger says it can’t get access to officials who were detained after coup
Analysts and locals say the coup was triggered by an internal struggle between Bazoum and the head
of the presidential guard, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, who says he’s now in charge. Since then, the
junta has been shoring up support among the population, exploiting grievances toward Niger’s
former colonial ruler, France, and silencing opposers.
Sabo is one of the few openly outspoken critics of the junta still in the country and not in hiding.
Several ministers and high-ranking politicians are detained, with human rights groups saying they are
unable to access them, while others have been threatened, he said. Sabo called the groundswell of
support for the regime in the capital deceptive, because the junta was paying people to rally in its
favor. Niamey was also never a stronghold for Bazoum and the junta is being opportunistic, he said.
Pro junta rallies happen almost daily with hundreds and sometimes thousands of people marching
through the streets, honking cars and waving Nigerien and Russian flags and chanting “down with
France.” The junta has severed military agreements with France and asked Russian mercenaries from
the Wagner group for help.
But although there was real frustration from political parties and civil society organizations toward
Bazoum’s party, including disagreements with its military alliance with France, it’s unclear how much
genuine support the junta has in the capital and across the country, Sahel experts say.
“While many of those protesters may support the transition, it is probably the case that a sizeable
amount of them are present only for monetary reasons or out of curiosity and the thrill of being part
of the crowd,” said Adam Sandor, post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bayreuth.
The junta could face challenges with its support base across the country if it can’t financially appease
local elites and if the army continues to suffer losses from growing jihadi violence, he said.
Attacks by jihadis are increasing since the coup, with at least 17 soldiers killed and 20 injured earlier
this week during an ambush by jihadis. It was the first major attack against Niger’s army in six
Militants are taking advantage of a gap in support by France and the United States, which have both
suspended military operations in the country, as well as Niger’s distracted security forces, which are
focusing on the capital and concerned about a potential invasion from regional countries, say
conflict experts.
The West African regional bloc, ECOWAS has threatened to take military action if Niger doesn’t
release and reinstate Bazoum. It has activated a ‘standby’ force and on Friday its defense chiefs are
wrapping up a two-day meeting about next steps.
Meanwhile, in Niamey and across the country, a volunteer recruitment drive is expected Saturday
where people can register to fight and help with other needs so the junta has a list in case it needs
to call on people for help.
“We know that our army may be be less in terms of numbers than the armies (coming),” said
Amsarou Bako, one of the organizers. “Those who are coming, they have information about our
army,” he said.

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur
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