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Niger’s junta authorities have requested assistance from the Russian outfit Wagner as the country confronts military intervention.


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According to an analyst, Niger’s new military junta has requested assistance from the Russian mercenary outfit Wagner as the deadline for releasing the country’s ousted president approaches, or risk probable military intervention by the West African regional grouping.

According to an analyst, Niger’s new military junta has requested assistance from the Russian mercenary outfit Wagner as the deadline for releasing the country’s ousted president approaches or face probable military intervention by the West African regional grouping.

The request came during a visit to neighboring Mali by one of the coup leaders, Gen. Salifou Mody, who made contact with someone from Wagner, according to Wassim Nasr, a journalist and senior research scholar at the Soufan Center. According to him, three Malian sources and a French diplomat verified the meeting, which was initially reported by France 24.

“They need (Wagner) because they will become their guarantee to hold onto power,” he added, adding that the group is weighing the request.

The regional bloc known as ECOWAS has set a Sunday deadline for Niger’s junta to release and reinstate democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum, who has described himself as a captive.

ECOWAS defense leaders agreed an intervention plan on Friday and encouraged troops to prepare resources after a mediation team dispatched to Niger on Thursday was denied entry and refused to meet with junta commander Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani.

Following his visit to Mali, which is controlled by a supportive junta, Mody warned against military involvement, promising that Niger would do whatever it takes to avoid becoming “a new Libya,” according to Niger’s official media.

In a region where coups have become regular in recent years, Niger has been viewed as the West’s last credible counterterrorism partner. Juntas have turned away from previous colonizer France and toward Russia. Wagner operates in a few African countries, including Mali, where human rights organisations have accused its forces of human rights violations.

One can’t say there’s any direct implication of Russia in Niger’s coup, but “clearly, there’s an opportunistic attitude on the part of Russia, which tries to support destabilization efforts wherever it finds them,” French foreign affairs ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre told broadcaster BFM on Friday. Days after Niger’s junta seized power, residents waved Russian flags in the streets.

Wagner, according to the spokeswoman, is a “recipe for chaos.”

Catherine Colonna, France’s foreign minister, said on Saturday that the regional threat of force was credible and advised putschists to take it seriously. “Coups are no longer acceptable… “It’s time to call it quits,” she added. The ministry stated that France supports “with firmness and determination” ECOWAS measures to ensure the coup leaders fail, and it called for the release of Bazoum and all members of his government.

Niger’s military commanders have been following the playbook of Mali and neighboring Burkina Faso, both of which are ruled by juntas, but the country is moving faster to consolidate power, according to Nasr: “(Tchiani) chose his path, so he’s going full on it without wasting time because there’s international mobilization.”

One question, he says, is how the international community will respond if Wagner is brought in. When Wagner arrived in Mali at the end of 2021, the French military was quickly deposed after years of collaboration. Wagner was later classified a terrorist organization by the US, and Nasr believes foreign partners will react more strongly now.

And there’s a lot more at stake in Niger, where the US and other partners have committed hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to confront the region’s rising terrorist threat. France has 1,500 soldiers in Niger, despite coup leaders claim they have broken security accords with Paris, while the United States has 1,100 troops there.

“At the moment, there’s no real indication that the (junta) is going to soften its tone or make concessions ahead of the deadline,” Andrew Lebovich, research fellow at the Clingendael Institute and postdoctoral fellow at the Danish Institute for International Studies, said, adding that an intervention would have “potentially serious consequences for Niger and the region.”

It is unknown how or when such intervention might take place. The junta of Niger has warned the populace to be on the lookout for spies, and self-organized defense groups have deployed at night to monitor cars and police the capital.

According to a Hudson Institute analysis, any involvement is fraught with danger. “If the junta were to dig in its heels and rally the populace around the flag — possibly even arming civilian militias — the intervention could morph into a multifaceted counterinsurgency that ECOWAS would not be prepared to handle,” it said.

While some in Niger are ready for a conflict, others are attempting to deal with ECOWAS travel and economic bans imposed following the coup. Sanctions have resulted in the closure of land and air borders with.

Residents said that the cost of items is rising and that cash is scarce.

“We are deeply concerned about the consequences of these sanctions, particularly their effects on the supply of essential food products, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, petroleum products, and electricity,” Sita Adamou, head of Niger’s Association to Defend Human Rights, stated.


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