Friday, September 22, 2023

UPDATE: Niger Coup Leaders Form New Government, Announce 21 Ministers

Niger junta has announced a list of 21 people it said will become ministers in a new government. According to IrishTimes, the announcement was made overnight on state television.

It comes as West African heads of state are set to hold a summit on Thursday aiming to agree on a plan of action for Niger, where coup leaders have refused to stand down despite the bloc’s threat that it could use force to restore democracy.

Since the July 26th coup d’etat shocked the region, the defiant junta has rebuffed diplomatic overtures and ignored an August 6th deadline from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to reinstate ousted president Mohamed Bazoum.

The meeting in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, could prove a pivotal moment in the standoff. The bloc’s leaders are expected to agree on next steps, which could include military intervention – something an ECOWAS official has said would be a last resort.

Envoys of the Nigerian president, and ECOWAS chair, Bola Tinubu met coup leaders in the capital, Niamey, on Wednesday, offering a glimmer of hope for dialogue after previous missions were spurned.

Any escalation would further destabilise West Africa’s Sahel region, one of the world’s poorest areas, where a long-running Islamist insurgency has displaced millions and stoked a hunger crisis.

The coup was triggered by internal politics but it has evolved into an international entanglement, with ECOWAS, the United Nations and Western countries putting pressure on the junta to stand down, while military governments in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso have vowed to defend it.

On Wednesday, a UN spokesperson said UN secretary general Antonio Guterres is very concerned about the reported “deplorable living conditions” of Niger’s president and his family in arbitrary detention.

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“The secretary general reiterates his concern over the health and safety of the president and his family and once again calls for his immediate, unconditional release and his reinstatement as head of state,” the spokesperson said.

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