On 26 July, one day after Niger’s presidential guard detained democratically-elected President Mohamed Bazoum, the army command endorsed the coup orchestrated by Abdourahmane Tchiani who, while declaring himself the leader of the newly established military junta, claimed that economic hardship, corruption and deteriorating security had made such move necessary (Schotte, 2023). After seizing power, the junta started to crack down on key political figures and fundamental freedoms: on 30 July, it arrested the ministers of petroleum, education and mines, as well as the ruling party’s head (Mednick, 2023). Meanwhile, junta spokesman Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane banned the use of social media to spread content which would allegedly harm national security (Mednick, 2023).
On the night of 25 July and 26, Niger experienced a coup which resulted in the arrest of President Bazoum by Chief Abdourahmane Tchiani, the leader of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Nation (CSNP) military junta, who claimed legitimate executive and legislative power in the country. Located in the Sahel region, Niger shares borders with Algeria and Libya to the north, Chad to the east, Nigeria and Benin to the south, and Burkina Faso and Mali to the west.
A contingent of some-2400 European troops are set to leave Mali and continue counter-insurgency operations from Niger, as the former colony’s President Mohamed Bazoum said on February 18th. The Sahel area has been constantly plagued for years by Islamist groups, with hundreds of victims and millions of displaced. In the past decade, France, at the helm of a European coalition, has shown a keen interest in collaborating with former colonies to contrast the threat, but the missions have encountered both logistical problems and local dissatisfaction with foreign presence, with Malian armed forces spokesperson Souleymane Dembele lamenting the inefficacy of European troops and Nigerine anti-foreign leader Maïkol Zodi considering them «as an occupying force».
After much wait and debate, on 19 April, the Council of the European Union has approved a set of conclusions to establish its new Sahel strategy.