Burkina Faso and Mali, two of Niger’s neighbors, have issued a stern warning against any foreign intervention in the country, following a military coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum last week. The two countries said that any attempt to use force to restore Bazoum to power would be considered a “declaration of war” against them and their people.
The warning came in a joint statement released on Monday, in which the governments of Burkina Faso and Mali expressed their “fraternal solidarity” with the people of Niger, who they said had decided to “take their destiny in hand and assume the fullness of their sovereignty before history”. The statement also rejected the “illegal, illegitimate and inhumane sanctions” imposed by some international actors on the Nigerien authorities and people.
The statement was a clear show of support for the leaders of the coup, who are led by Abdourahamane Tchiani, the chief of the presidential guard. Tchiani announced on July 26 that he had “put an end” to Bazoum’s administration, citing the “deteriorating security situation” and the rising cost of living as some of the reasons for his action. He also promised to organize a transition to a civilian government within 18 months.
The coup has been widely condemned by the international community, especially by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional bloc that threatened to use force to reinstate Bazoum if he was not released within a week. ECOWAS also suspended Niger’s membership and imposed sanctions on the coup leaders and their supporters.
Bazoum, who was elected in 2021 in the first peaceful transfer of power in Niger’s history, is seen as a key ally by Western countries, especially France and the United States, who have been supporting Niger in its fight against Islamist insurgents in the Sahel region. Both countries have also suspended their security and economic cooperation with Niger following the coup.
However, some of Niger’s neighbors have taken a different stance. Guinea, which also experienced a coup last year, expressed its support for Tchiani and his junta, saying that they had acted in the best interest of Niger and its people. Guinea also called for dialogue and consultation among all stakeholders to resolve the crisis peacefully.