Please follow and like us:

(July 31st 2023)

NIAMEY. Well, they did it: the Nigerien military, like the Malian and Burkinabé soldiers before them, rebelled against the legitimate power and without bloodshed overthrew the President of the Republic who had been in office for just two years.



“At the beginning – writes [1] – it seemed like the mutiny of a small group of officers”, then it became clear as the hours passed that we were dealing with a real attemted coup.

this was confirmed late on Wednesday 26th July, when the TV broadcast a statement, read by a senior official, flanked by nine other peers, announcing the deposition of President Mohamed Bazoum, the dissolution of parliament, the closure of the borders, the night curfew… in short, the whole complex of measures that are usually adopted by the rebel soldiers.

The seizure of power, the military explain, was caused by the deterioration of the security situation and poor economic and social governance”.

On 27th July, with another statement, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Niger (FAN) Abdou Sidikou Issa, declared: “We endorse the declaration of Colonel Abdramane. We too announce the end of the regime of President Mohamed Bazoum, who was kidnapped by members of the presidential guard.”

On the 28th, in a radio and TV speech, the man who appears to be the leader of the new junta, Abdarahamane Omar Tchiani, head of the presidential guard, explains:

“We were in danger of witnessing the gradual and inevitable disappearance of our country.”

Referring then to the international relations of Niger with the rest of the world, he adds:

“The National Council for the Protection of the Homeland (the body that assumed all powers following the putsch, [NDR]) reiterates its willingness to respect all international commitments. The Council, through my voice, asks Niger’s partners and friends, in this crucial phase for the life of our country, to trust our defense and security forces, guarantors of national unity, territorial integrity and of our nation’s best interests.”[2]

“An army officer since he was a boy – writes Matteo Fraschini Koffi[3] – Tchiani, 62, has led the presidential guard since the former president, Mahamadou Issoufou, was elected in 2011. In March ten years later, the general would, however, have avoided another coup organized by a group of soldiers a few hours before the establishment of Bazoum. Recently, however, relations between the two had deteriorated: the now ousted president had decided to remove them following a change in the security forces. silent and feared by his colleagues, Tchiani is originally from the southwestern region of Tillaberi, close to the border with Mali, scene of much of the jihadist attacks launched in recent years.



However, Niamey’s partners have refused to recognize the new authorities: from Washington to Brussels and even from Moscow, they have asked for the restoration of the pre-existing situation, the release of the President and the return of the coup plotters to their barracks.

The EU has threatened to block the various financing lines that allow Niger to survive and the West African Economic Community, which held a summit at the highest levels in Abuja on 30th July, launched an ultimatum: if within a week the situation in Niger will not back to normal there will be an armed intervention by ECOWAS-CEDEAO.

Even France, Niamey’s privileged partner, has threatened to intervene directly on the scene of the crisis if its interests and structures are damaged.

However, supporters of the new military junta have also appeared in the country: in recent days, headquarters of Bazoum’s party have been devastated while the French embassy has been subject to attacks, with shouts of “long live Russia, down with Paris”.

In short, one of the poorest countries in the world, 189th in the world ranking of the human development index, seems to be on the verge of a generalized collapse, caught up in the general crisis that has been affecting all of central-northern Africa for years now, an area of ​​conflict between armed jihadist groups and mercenaries of the Wagner company, which now extends its tentacles from Sudan to Mali.

A crisis that also risks affecting the states of the Gulf of Guinea, such as Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon governed either by fragile institutions or by old patriarchs clinging to their power for more than ten years.

It is no coincidence that the events in Niamey occurred while the Russia-Africa summit was underway in St. Petersburg, which was attended by 49 government delegations from the continent seeking help and support for their fragile economies.



Having said that in Niger there are 1,500 French soldiers and soldiers from other countries, including Italy in the context of MISIN, who have converged there to help the Nigerien army in the fight against jihadism, the Sahel country has also been entrusted with the role of “filter” of the migratory currents that arrive in Libya from sub-Saharian Africa. As part of its anti-immigration policy, the European Union has assigned Niamey a role similar to that which Turkey has been entrusted with in the eastern sphere. Huge sums have been paid to both countries to prevent migrants from reaching our shores.

Furthermore, the country is the 5th world producer of uranium: until now the monopoly of extraction was held by the French Orano (the legendary former Areva). Next to this mineral, essential for making the thermonuclear power plants that Paris has on its territory work and which supply 80% of the electricity consumed in the hexagon and in neighboring countries, there are other commodities such as gold, coal, oil, phosphates and more.

The Sahel is also a destination for the trafficking of cocaine coming from Latin America and destined for European markets.

So what are the scenarios that emerge?

let’s give the floor to Luca Raineri who formulates at least three in the columns of Repubblica:

“A) a prolonged stalemate would risk plunging the country into a bloody civil conflict between loyalists and rebels, not unlike what is happening in Sudan. The consequences for the population would be dramatic, and the long wave of regional destabilization would soon hit the Mediterranean coasts;

B) the rapid success of the coup deprives the western partners of a reliable interlocutor and triggers the withdrawal of military support due to a clear strategic divergence.
Without support, and worried about the perpetuation of their power, it is not improbable that the Nigerien coup plotters will end up asking their Malian colleagues who preceded them for Yevgeny Prigozhin’s telephone number;

C) the crystallization of the coup convinces the Western partners to adopt a “pragmatic” approach.
The democratic prejudicials are thrown away – on which we are stubborn in Kiev, less and less in Africa – and a cooperative relationship is set up with the new Nigerien authorities inspired by the Tunisian script: you will have our help, as long as Moscow stays away from you and the migrants stay away from us!.”[4]



After that for a few decades it seemed unfashionable to resolve political crises through the direct intervention of the armed forces, even since the 1990s it has established itself
on the continent, with various results, multipartyism (previously the single state party prevailed almost everywhere), now it seems that the shortcut of the military putsch is making a comeback.

Since 2019 there have been two in Mali, as many in Burkina Faso and Sudan, one in Guinea and in Chad. Attempts to overthrow the government have taken place without success in Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Sao Tome and Principe, as well as in Niger itself.

According to a study carried out in the United States by Jonathan Powell (University of Central Florida) and Clayton Thyne (University of Kentucky), there have been over 200 coup attempts in Africa since 1952: about half were successful and the Sudan is the state that has recorded the most, 16. Nigeria has suffered 8, between successes and failures, Dahomey-Benin and Ghana 5, Congo Brazzaville 4. Several presidents have been killed: the first (January 13 1963) was Sylvanus Olympio (Togo), while many others either managed to escape or were sent into exile abroad.

There have also been internal wars
such as that of Biafra (1967-70) or the recent conflict between the Ethiopian state and the province of Tigray.

Why so much instability?

There are many reasons: in the first place, the state born after decolonization has very fragile structures and not infrequently those who direct it, in order to have control over it, resort to the typical tools of authoritarianism, linked to widespread corruption, tending to make everyone loyal to the regime those who to some extent might aspire to seize power.

In many African countries, governments have handed out boons and encouraged the easy self-enrichment of an increasingly voracious kleptocracy.

Secondly, the area of ​​origin of the President has often been favored to the detriment of the others in order to create a coalition of loyalist forces which, at the right moment, can resist the advance of their adversaries.

Thirdly, socio-economic difficulties have prevented the achievement of the programmatic political results that the leaderships had set themselves before coming to power.

“In recent years, however – writes[5] – military coups seem to have been favored, or at least not held back, by an ever-increasing “inaction” of the so-called international community: often instead of intervening decisively, it limited to isolate the new regimes, without however adopting more incisive measures (such as sanctions).”

The pandemic and the contraction of already scarce resources, we add, also favored by the climate changes underway which often impoverish agriculture, decreasing the availability of food, together with the conflicts between farmers and shepherds in various areas of the Sahel have pushed the populations to welcome the new military authorities, hoping they will succeed where democratic institutions have failed.

In recent days, on RFI, a Nigerien listener, speaking in a debate concerning the coup taking place in Niamey, declared that he was convinced that the new military junta that came to power a few days ago can guarantee the security and prosperity that had been lacking over the years of democracy and multipartyism.




The Republic of Niger, located in West Africa: has landlocked territory. It borders to the north with Algeria and Libya, to the east with Chad, to the south with Nigeria and Benin and to the west with Burkina Faso and Mali: it owes its name to the Niger river which crosses it. The capital is Niamey, in the southwest of the country. The inhabitants take the name of Nigeriens (Nigerians are instead the inhabitants of Nigeria).

The country occupies an area of ​​1.3 sq km. and is populated by 22.7 million inhabitants, belonging to various ethnic groups: the most widespread are the Hausa and the Djerme-Songai, sedentary, but there are also the Tuareg and the Peul shepherds, semi-nomadic.

The prevailing religion is Sunni Islam.



Independent since August 3rd 1960, it was part of French West Africa (AOF). Its first president Hamani Diori was overthrown in the first coup on April 15th, 1974.

After that it’s all a succession of coups, military regimes, more or less successful transitions to democracy. In 1999 a new constitution was drafted which established a state with a presidential regime, but the armed forces remained the most important institution and able to decide who should govern and who shouldn’t.

In 2021 Mohamed Bazoum won the last presidential elections with 56% of the votes, but many predict that his leadership will not last long: already the night before his inauguration, April 2nd, 2021, gunshots are heard. It seems like the beginning of yet another mutiny which, however, does not prevent the new leader from being sworn in. But now the uprising has gone well and the fate of this “sand giant”, rich in minerals, is at the center of international attention.

We will see if the new junta will consolidate its power or if it will have to give way to a restored civilian-led regime.




[1] L. Martinelli, Niger, Bazoum resiste ma l’esercito si unisce ai golpisti,, 28th July 2023;
[2] Le Monde avec AFP, Au Niger, le général Tchiani se déclare à la tête du coup d’Etat en cours, la France « ne reconnaît pas les autorités » issues du putsch,, 28th July 2023
the translation from french was mine.
[3] M. Fraschini Koffi, Il generale golpista si prende il Niger Cade l’ultimo baluardo occidentale,, 29th July 2023;
[4] L. Raineri, Se vacilla il Niger,, 29th July 2023;
[5], Perché in Africa centro-occidentale ci sono così tanti colpi di stato, 29th July 2023.

Please follow and like us: