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AU Takes Firm Stand: Niger suspended until constitutional order restored

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AU Takes Firm Stand: Niger suspended until constitutional order restored

Story from Hamzat Ibrahim ABAGA

The African Union (AU), has taken decisive action by suspending Niger from all of its institutions and activities until constitutional order is restored in the country.

This decision comes in the wake of mutinous soldiers overthrowing President Mohamed Bazoum, who was democratically elected, and seizing control of the government.

President Bazoum, along with his wife and son, is currently under house arrest in Niamey, the capital of Niger.

The AU Council, comprising representatives from the 55-nation bloc, made this announcement as their first public communication following a meeting earlier this month to address the crisis in Niger.

READ ALSO: Army will hand over power to civilian government in 3 years – Niger coup leader

The Council called on all member states and the international community to reject the unconstitutional change of government and refrain from any action that might legitimize the illegal regime in Niger.

Furthermore, the AU Commission and the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, were urged to compile a list of individuals within the military junta and their civilian allies who have violated human rights, including those responsible for the mistreatment of President Bazoum and other detainees. The purpose of this list is to impose targeted sanctions against them.

President Bazoum’s situation is of grave concern as reports indicate that his access to basic necessities such as electricity, water, and food has been severed.

Human rights groups have also voiced their inability to reach ministers and political figures who were detained by the junta following the coup.

Previously, Niger was considered a crucial ally in the fight against a burgeoning jihadi insurgency in the Sahel region. However, this coup has strained its relationships with Western countries, including France and the United States, who have deployed military personnel in the country.

ECOWAS, which has grappled with numerous coups in recent years, has threatened the use of force if President Bazoum is not reinstated.

Despite a deadline for his reinstatement passing without action, an ECOWAS delegation visited Niger but made limited progress during talks. The junta remains committed to its plans of restoring constitutional rule within three years.

While member states of ECOWAS support military intervention to reinstate President Bazoum, the AU remains divided and hesitant about the use of force.

Some countries within the AU oppose military intervention, creating further uncertainty in the region, says Rida Lyammouri, a senior fellow at the Policy Center for the New South.

The AU’s Peace and Security Council possesses the authority to overrule military intervention in the interest of broader stability. Analysts suggest that if it rejects the use of force, ECOWAS may encounter legal difficulties in justifying military action.

In their statement, the AU Council emphasized the paramount importance of the military prioritizing the interests of the Nigerien people above all else. They called for an immediate and unconditional return to the barracks and submission to civilian authorities.

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