Niger Junta May Relinquish Power As Sanctions Bite-Niger Ambassador


LAGOS AUGUST 3RD (NEWSRANGERS)-Diplomatic and economic sanctions imposed by Niger’s neighbors in the wake of a coup are beginning to bite, as the junta begins talks with regional leaders about the political crisis, the nation’s ambassador to the US said.

The “sanctions have started having an effect in Niamey as we speak,” Kiari Liman Tinguiri said in an interview Wednesday with Bloomberg TV. “The military junta, who has launched this attempt of a coup, will come to reason and give back power to save the unnecessary suffering for our people.”

The Economic Community of West African States this week closed air and land borders with Niger, froze the nation’s assets at the regional central bank, and banned commercial flights, among other steps aimed at compelling the junta to reinstate the nation’s democratically elected president. Nigeria, Niger’s southern neighbor, ratcheted up the pressure on the junta to relinquish power by cutting its electricity supply to the country.

A delegation of Ecowas officials arrived in Niger’s capital, Niamey, on Wednesday for negotiations with the coup leaders. A group of junta officials led by Niger’s army chief of staff also traveled to Mali and is expected to visit Burkina Faso — two neigboring states also ruled by the military.

General Abdourahamane Tiani declared himself Niger’s new leader on July 28, two days after the presidential guard he leads detained President Mohamed Bazoum. The coup leaders have dismissed previous calls by Ecowas, the African Union, the US and France to release Bazoum and return to their barracks.

Threat of Force

The regional bloc said on July 30 it may use force if the junta doesn’t reinstate Bazoum within a week. Defense chiefs from the 15-member Ecowas bloc began a two-day meeting on Wednesday in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, to discuss the political and security situation in Niger. The deadline for the junta to hand over power, set by Ecowas, expires on Sunday.

Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Niger’s long-term foreign and local currency issuer ratings by two notches to Caa2 from B3, saying the sanctions “will likely prevent Niger from making upcoming principal or interest payments to creditors outside the country, which would constitute a default under Moody’s definition.”

Niger had $7.8 billion of debt at the end of 2022, more than half of which is owed to multilateral lenders including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, according to IMF data. Its commercial creditors include Deutsche Bank AG and China National Petroleum Corp., the data shows.

Bazoum, who hasn’t been seen in public since he was detained by the presidential guard on July 26, has spoken to heads of state including US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron about the situation in the country, Tinguiri said.

“Physically, the president is doing well, and he’s mentally very strong,” he said.

The coup risks further destabilizing West Africa’s Sahel region, the ambassador said. It also poses a threat to coastal countries including Ivory Coast and Togo, where there has been an increase in jihadist activity, Tinguiri said.


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Posted by on Aug 3 2023. Filed under International, National. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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