I learned with pleasure today, on Sunday, December 10, 2023, that the ECOWAS heads of state meeting in Nigeria has shifted its stance towards the military government of Niger. They are now engaging in negotiations with the junta to establish a transitional timetable leading to civilian or constitutional rule, rather than insisting on the immediate reinstatement of the deposed President Bazoum. This aligns with my initial recommendation, made when the regional bloc seemed only inclined towards saber-rattling and military intervention. After five months of stagnant progress and little achievement, it appears that General Abdourahamane Tchiani, the Presidential Guard commander and current head of state of Niger, has not only defied all odds but has also formed a strong political and security alliance with Koita of Mali and Traore of Burkina Faso. This alliance poses a significant threat to the effectiveness and even the existence of ECOWAS. Considering ECOWAS’ inability to mobilize intervention troops to restore constitutional rule in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea Conakry, where similar “unconstitutional seizures of power” occurred, it seems illogical to believe that Niger could be an exception and be perceived as normal. The intervention initiative was largely driven by the West, particularly neocolonial France, aiming to maintain their puppet deposed leader, President Bazoum, in power. He prioritized Western interests over those of the people of Niger. Notably, the military junta, in just five months, has achieved rapid economic growth by reclaiming control of the country’s lucrative uranium mines from foreign exploitation.
Uranium, which was sold to France for less than $1 a kilogram under Bazoum’s administration, is now fetching $200 per kilogram for the Nigeriens in the global market.
Consequently, Niger’s economy is projected to experience exponential growth in the coming year, surpassing the pace of most African economies. All three military regimes—Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger—are simultaneously combating state-orchestrated corruption at an unprecedented rate since the beginning of the post-colonial era. In conclusion, I extend my appreciation to ECOWAS leaders for their reasonable decision to abandon the war agenda in favor of the sensible and acceptable option of peace.
Retired Lt. Colonel