France has denied any plans of military intervention in Niger. Speaking to France BFM TV the Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna termed the allegations of invading Niger as untrue. The statement comes after the military Junta that seized power in Niger accused France of colluding with ousted government officials to forcefully intervene and reinstate deposed president Mohamed Bazoum who was ousted from power through a military coup.
Earlier, CNN reported that a French Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, “France recalls that it recognizes President Mohamed Bazoum and the democratically elected institutions as the only legitimate authorities in Niger.” The quote and French allegiance to the overthrown government were not well received as the military spokesperson Amadou Abdramane accused France of malicious collusion.
“To intervene militarily in Niger, France with the complicity of certain Nigerians held a meeting at the headquarters of the national guard of Niger to obtain the necessary political and military authorization for an attack.”
Prior to the coup that took place on the 26th, President Mohamed Bazoum was in charge of the uranium-rich country. Bazoum was a key ally to the West before being toppled by the elite presidential guard. The coup that took place on the 26th of July saw General Abdourahamane Tchiani declare himself the leader of the country.
Though his presidency is being denounced both regionally and globally, the military coup has received immense support locally. Thousands of Nigerians have taken to the street to protest the high cost of living, poor governance, and corruption they experienced under President Bazoum’s government.
“People are suffering in the country. Nigerians shouldn’t be living like this. We support the military with the hope that they restore balance,” said one demonstrator. “Niger is resilient. If the national budget is inflated it is because of stealing. What we produce is more than enough to sustain us. We ask the armed forces not to give in to any blackmail,” says another demonstrator.
However, what locals term as blackmail, poses a real threat to the economic well-being and survival of the masses. Since the coup, sanctions have been piling on. On top of threatening forceful intervention if all measures to restore constitutional order are not taken, ECOWAS has suspended all commercial and financial transactions with Niger.
France and the united states of America have either cut off or threatened to stop any support to Niger. Germany has suspended financial aid and development cooperation while the United Nations has put on hold humanitarian operations.
Currently, 3.6 million people are at risk of hunger with 1 million children facing malnutrition. The UN tags Niger as one of the least developed countries in the world. Depending on aid to run its day-to-day operations, Niger receives 2 billion dollars annually in the form of development assistance. The country also received 295 million dollars in aid for the support of health and emergency food assistance from France and the EU in 2022.
Speaking on Niger’s dependence on aid, prime minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou says the sanctions are going to be disastrous. He says Niger is a country that relies heavily on its partnership with the international community which proves much needed support. Mahamadou notes that partners turning their backs on aiding Niger is equivalent to suicide.
Despite France maintaining that their interest is in the well-being of French nationals and French holdings in Niger, experts say there is more than meets the eye. According to Marisa Lourenco, a political and economic risk analyst, the mild aggression displayed by France could be due to its economic interests in Niger’s natural resources.
“Some of the biggest oil and gas companies and engineering firms globally are French. France needs to have good relations across the world including Africa to protect its economic influence as these companies support their economy. France doesn’t want diminishing influence in Africa as that leaves room for new players to set up base on the continent. ”
Niger now joins Mali and Burkinafaso as countries that have undergone military coups in the recent past. Before the coup on the 26th of July, 4 other coups had taken place with two attempted coups against President Bazoum.