New Twist in Niger Crisis as Russian Mercenaries Arrive

The Russian mercenary group Wagner’s arrival in Mali, along with soldiers, arms, and ammunition, has added complexity to the crisis surrounding the military coup in Niger Republic.

The group claims that its presence in Mali aims to assist the Mali military government in combating terrorists and pursuing other interests, as reported by Al-Jazeera.

Mali and Burkina Faso, both ruled by military juntas, have expressed support for the coup in Niger and have criticized the sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) following the coup. They have vowed to stand with Niger against any potential use of force against the junta.

To demonstrate their commitment, these nations have reportedly deployed troops to Niamey as a backup for the Niger military.

ECOWAS has rejected the three-year transition plan proposed by Niger coup leader General Abdourahamane Tchiani, maintaining the possibility of employing force if diplomatic negotiations fail.

The junta has adamantly stated that it will not heed ECOWAS’ position. The Wagner presence in Mali, which shares a lengthy border with Niger, is believed to provide support for the junta.

The coup leaders had requested assistance from Wagner, and Prigozhin confirmed his team’s readiness to offer support.

 

A former Russian official alleged that Wagner and the Russian state conspired to facilitate the military coup in Niger. Russian military blogger Mikhail Zvinchuk, also known as “Rybar,” claimed, “The recent coup in Niger was carried out in close cooperation with Russian special services and Private Military Company (PMC) consultants.”

The junta took control recently, overthrowing President Mohamed Bazoum’s government and confining him to house arrest in the Presidential Palace in Niamey.

ECOWAS Envoy to Niger Republic, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, expressed optimism that the situation is unlikely to worsen. He spoke with reporters after a meeting with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government.

Gen. Abdulsalami, a former Head of State, mentioned that he conveyed the junta’s peace terms to ECOWAS, and communication between the regional bloc and Niger’s military rulers is ongoing.

He emphasized that his role as envoy has fostered productive communication. President Tinubu will consult with colleagues regarding the next steps.

The African Union (AU) froze Niger’s membership and supported ECOWAS’ efforts to reinstate democratic governance. The junta intends to restore constitutional rule within three years, a plan that West African nations have rejected.

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