Updated: Aug 3
Thousands of supporters of the junta that seized control of Niger in a recent coup took to the streets of the capital, Niamey, on Sunday, waving Russian flags and voicing support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. They also vehemently denounced former colonial power France. The demonstration comes amid growing uncertainty about Niger's future and concerns over the reasons behind the military takeover.
The streets of Niamey were filled with supporters of the junta, who marched through the city, displaying their allegiance to the new leadership. They chanted the name of Russian President Vladimir Putin, suggesting a desire for closer ties with Russia. This show of support for Russia has raised eyebrows, particularly in light of the presence of the Russian mercenary group Wagner in neighboring Mali. President Putin has expressed an interest in expanding Russian influence in the region, making the situation in Niger even more complex.
Since the coup, questions have arisen about the junta's intentions and its geopolitical alignments. It remains uncertain whether the new junta leaders will lean towards Moscow or maintain Niger's existing partnerships with Western countries. The geopolitical implications of Niger's trajectory are being closely watched by the international community.
The mutineers who orchestrated the coup stated that their action was driven by the perceived inability of President Mohamed Bazoum to effectively address the growing threat of jihadi violence in the country. President Bazoum was democratically elected two years ago in Niger's first peaceful and democratic transfer of power since gaining independence from France. However, analysts and some Nigeriens have raised doubts about the stated reasons for the coup, suggesting that internal power struggles may have played a significant role in the junta's decision to seize control.
As the dust settles after the coup, uncertainty hangs over Niger's future, and calls for clarity on the junta's intentions are growing louder. The international community, including former colonial power France, is closely monitoring the situation and weighing its response.
The coup in Niger has implications not only for the country's stability but also for regional security dynamics. The presence of Russian-linked supporters in the streets of Niamey adds further complexity to an already delicate situation. As events continue to unfold, the world waits to see how Niger's new leadership will navigate its political, security, and diplomatic challenges, and what impact it will have on the broader West African region.