Niger’s Military Regime Issues Expulsion Orders Amidst Tensions with Western Powers
In a recent development, Niger’s military rulers have given foreign ambassadors from France, Germany, and Nigeria a 48-hour ultimatum to leave the country, intensifying the already strained relations between the new regime and Western powers. The coup, which took place on July 26 and saw the military assume control of the government, has sparked a series of diplomatic tensions and warnings from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regarding potential military intervention.
The French government, however, has promptly rejected the expulsion order against its ambassador, asserting that it does not acknowledge the authority of the military rulers. The French foreign ministry underscored that the ambassador’s legitimacy is solely derived from the elected authorities of Niger. This move by the military junta comes as ECOWAS presses for a return to civilian rule and emphasizes that the use of force remains a viable option to restore democracy.
While the coup leaders advocate for a three-year transition period, ECOWAS is steadfast in its demand for an immediate return to constitutional order. Negotiations remain the focal point of ECOWAS efforts, but a standby mission for potential military intervention is also being prepared, should peaceful avenues prove ineffective.
Amidst the escalating tension, the military junta has accused ECOWAS of plotting an occupying force in collaboration with an undisclosed foreign nation. The junta has even expressed willingness to allow neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso to intervene in the event of an aggression. However, ECOWAS officials clarify that any potential military intervention would be executed within the framework of the organization’s statutes and would be a legitimate force.
The broader region has witnessed a series of military uprisings and the rise of jihadist groups in recent years. ECOWAS has previously intervened militarily in civil conflicts, but the prospect of military action in Niger is generating political resistance, particularly in northern Nigeria. Algeria, Niger’s northern neighbor, has also raised concerns about the potential negative consequences of foreign military intervention in the region.
As the diplomatic landscape continues to evolve, foreign officials and regional leaders emphasize the importance of pursuing peaceful solutions to the crisis. With negotiations ongoing and the specter of military intervention looming, the path forward remains uncertain.