Niamey, Niger – Political turmoil continues in Niger as the military junta that overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum in a coup last week struggles internally amid rising regional pressure to restore the elected government.
According to inside sources, divisions have emerged within the ruling junta headed by Brigadier General Abdel Rahman Cheney, who seized power on July 26. The Nigerien armed forces initially conditioned their support for the coup on General Salifou Modi being installed as the public head of the junta. However, Modi declined the appointment, preferring to remain behind the scenes.
Tensions escalated further on July 28 when a countercoup was rumored to be in the works by General Salahoubre Oubre, commander of the elite Nigerien Special Forces. But in the eleventh hour, Oubre called off plans to overthrow Cheney, leaving the unstable junta in place.
The infighting at the top levels of the military has done little to relieve the suffering of ordinary Nigeriens, who continue to face severe hardships as a result of the ongoing political crisis.
Meanwhile, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has delivered an ultimatum to the junta to step down and reinstate Bazoum as president by August 7. ECOWAS defense chiefs have reportedly drawn up a military intervention plan if the deadline passes.
The French government has also warned it will back ECOWAS efforts to undo the coup militarily if needed. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna held talks with Niger’s prime minister on Saturday to discuss the crisis.
President Bazoum was democratically elected in April 2021. His ouster interrupted Niger’s first-ever peaceful transfer of power between two popularly elected presidents.