Niger preparing against possibility of aggression as tensions run high

By Gamal Khattab August 27, 2023 5380

A month after Niger's current military administration overthrew the country's democratically elected president, tensions still remain high. 

"Threats of aggression on the national territory are increasingly felt," indicated a message on Friday that was attributed to the general staff of the army and confirmed by a military source to Anadolu.

Without specifying the origin of these threats, the top brass ordered army units to go on "maximum alert ... to avoid a general surprise effect and to provide the appropriate response."

Niger was plunged into turmoil on July 26 when Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani, a former commander of the presidential guard, led a military intervention that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) last week demanded that the military restore constitutional order in Niger "in order to concentrate on the security of the country, which has become increasingly fragile" since Bazoum was ousted.

The bloc had earlier ordered the activation of its standby force on Aug. 10 to restore constitutional order, though fears of an armed intervention have since eased somewhat after the new Nigerien authorities accepted a dialogue mission from ECOWAS last week.

During a heated press briefing on Friday at the organization's headquarters in Abuja, ECOWAS Commission President Omar Alieu Touray said the use of force was not considered being for the restoration of constitutional order in Niger.

Through statements and debates in local press, several political and civil society groups are also warning France against aggression towards Niger.

Algerian public radio announced on Tuesday that the North African nation had rejected a request from Paris to use Algerian airspace for a military intervention against Niger. The French authorities have denied the claim.

On Friday, Niger gave an ultimatum to the French ambassador stationed in Niamey to leave the country in 48 hours.

The military administration cited "actions by the French government against the interests of Niger" for the decision.