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08/04/2023 – Niger (International Christian Concern) – The future governing structure of Niger continues to be uncertain as the country remains in a state of emergency after the fallout from a military coup.

West African nations have given the coup leaders one week to return power to President Mohamed Bazoum and have threatened the use of force.

Niger is in the region in Africa known as the Sahel, comprised of many countries in the Sahara Desert as well as those to the immediate south. In recent years, multiple countries within the Sahel have banned together to combat Islamic extremism. The recent coup in Niger is viewed by many African leaders as a loss of a strategic ally in the fight against terrorism.

Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, a Ghanian diplomat at the United Nations, said deteriorating security and attacks are on the rise in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. Armed terrorist groups launch repeated attacks on civilians and the military. The Global Terrorism Index recorded 2,880 deaths in the Sahel region out of a total of 6,701 global deaths from terrorism in 2022.

The uprising in Niger has led many experts to believe the situation in the region will only get worse, particularly without foreign intervention.

Nigeria based geopolitical security analyst, Confidence MacHarry, said, “These guys who launched the coup are senior officers who are far removed from actual fighting. Actual fighting differs from other southern parts of Niger. So, on one hand, the region has lost an important ally in Bazoum in the fight against armed groups. There is not much the new military guys can do in that regard.”

The coup leaders have justified their uprising as responding to Niger’s worsening security situation and lack of action against jihadists.

Another issue presented by this coup is the withdrawal of foreign powers. Several African and European governments have had longstanding involvement in the Sahel and are forced to leave due to the violence surrounding the coup.

David Otto, head of security and defense analysis with the Geneva Center for Africa Security and Strategic Studies said, “When you have forces that are engaged in counterinsurgency and withdraw those forces, the expectation is that you have to replace them. If you do not replace them, you create an operational gap which means the forces that will be withdrawn will not be immediately replaced. What is happening, for example, in the case of the Niger Republic, is that there will be a consolidation of power by the military. They will not have time to redeploy their forces. The impact could be dire.”

There is hope that the military leaders will cede power and restore democracy due to the increase of international pressure, specifically coming from neighboring countries to Niger.