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Niger’s Junta Gains the Upper Hand Over the Regional Bloc Threatening Military Force, Analysts Say

A man checks his phone in Niamey, Niger, Friday, Aug. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Sam Mednick)
A man checks his phone in Niamey, Niger, Friday, Aug. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Sam Mednick)

One week after a deadline passed for mutinous soldiers in Niger to reinstate the country’s ousted president or face military intervention, the junta has not acquiesced. No military action has been taken and the coup leaders appear to have gained the upper hand over the regional group that issued the threat, analysts say.

The West African bloc ECOWAS had given the soldiers that overthrew Niger’s democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum until last Sunday to release and reinstate him or they threatened military action. On Thursday, the bloc ordered the deployment of a “standby” force to restore constitutional rule in Niger, with Nigeria, Benin, Senegal and Ivory Coast saying they would contribute troops.

But it’s unclear when, how or if the troops will deploy. The move could take weeks or months to set into motion, and while the bloc decides what to do the junta is gaining power, some observers say.

“It looks as though the putschists have won and will stay … The putschists are holding all the cards and have cemented their rule,” said Ulf Laessing, head of the Sahel program at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a think tank.

ECOWAS is unlikely to intervene militarily and risk dragging Niger into civil war, he said, adding that ECOWAS and Western countries would instead likely press the junta to agree to a short transition period.

Related Story: ‘Want to Send a Message’: Biden Admin Refuses to Pull Troops Out of Niger After ‘Junta’ Stonewalls Negotiations

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