Published On: Sat, Jul 29th, 2023

Putin looks to cash in on Niger coup as US pledges full support to deposed President | World | News

The United States has pledged its “unflagging support” to the ousted Nigerian President, saying it will work to ensure the full restoration of the constitutional order in the country.

Mohamed Bazoum was detained by soldiers from his Presidential Guard on Wednesday, before being replaced by General Abdourahmane Tchiani as head of state in a military coup.

The 63-year-old’s overthrow represents a huge blow to Niger’s democratic aspirations and opens the door for Russia to gain further influence in Africa.

In a late phone call on Friday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken offered the deposed Niger President his complete support.

Mr Blinken had also previously called for his immediate release from arrest.

President Bazoum was the first elected leader to succeed another in Niger since independence in 1960.

The country had been seen as an example of relative democratic stability in a region of Africa beset by political turmoil.

Under Bazoum’s presidency, Niger has also been a key Western ally and partner in the fight against Islamist insurgents, hosting both American and French troops.

The US has about 1,100 military personnel in the country, which operate from two bases, while France has around 1,500 soldiers based there.

The State Department has described Niger as an “important linchpin” for stability in the Sahel region of Africa, as well as being a “reliable counter-terrorism partner”.

Niger is located in the Sahel region of Africa, which has been plagued by political instability in recent years.

Most of this instability stems from Islamic jihadists, who have intensified their insurgency in the area.

Violent groups have gained ground by controlling territory and conducting attacks in the tri-border region between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

The coup leaders cited the worsening security situation as a reason for their revolt, which follows hot on the heels of similar military takeovers in Mali and Burkina Faso.

Bazoum’s overthrow has been condemned in no uncertain terms by most leaders around the world.

French President Emmanuel Macron called the coup “completely illegitimate and “profoundly dangerous”.

While Kenya’s President William Ruto described the military takeover as “a serious setback” for Africa.

“The aspirations of the people of Niger for constitutional democracy were subverted by an unconstitutional change of government,” he said in a video message.

The only support for the coup plotters came from Yegeny Progozhin, the head of the Wagner militia.

Prigozhin described the coup in a voice message as a moment of long overdue liberation from Western colonisers.

He offered to send his fighters to Niger to help keep order, suggesting he has plans to expand Wagner’s influence in the region.

Russia has increased its presence in Africa through Wagner, which exploits mineral resources on the continent to fund its activities and enrich its Kremlin backers.

Niger produces seven per cent of the world’s uranium supplies, which would be an obvious target for the mercenary group and the Kremlin.

Prior to the coup, President Bazoum had complained of “disinformation campaigns” by Wagner against his government.

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