French Foreign Ministry on Tuesday announced that it is preparing to evacuate its citizens and people of European nations who wish to leave Niger, days after President Mohamed Bazoum was overthrown by members of his presidential guard…reports Asian Lite News
General Salifou Mody, one of the Niger officers who seized power in a military coup last week, visited Mali on Wednesday, CNN reported citing the Mali presidency.
Notably, this comes amid speculation of possible interest in the Wagner mercenary group, which has a presence in the country.
Mali’s transitional president, Assimi Goïta, hosted Mody and a large Nigerien military delegation on Wednesday, CNN reported citing the pictures and a statement posted on Facebook by the Mali presidency.
Mody called the meeting “part of a complex regional context,” the Mali presidency said, and thanked Malian authorities “for their support and accompaniment since the seizure of power by the CNSP,” referring to the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland where Mody is vice president.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Wagner contractors are stationed in Mali at the invitation of the country’s military junta, to quell an Islamist insurgency brewing in an area where the borders of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger meet.
Last week, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin celebrated the coup in the landlocked West African country, saying his private military company could also help with situations like the one unfolding in Niger, CNN reported.
The dramatic ouster of Niger’s President Bazoum last week alarmed Western leaders, including the US and France, which are both key stakeholders in Niger’s crackdown on local insurgencies.
US officials have warned that the Russian mercenary group could now seek new opportunities in Niger.
“I would not be surprised to see Wagner attempt to exploit this situation to their own advantage as they’ve attempted to exploit other situations in Africa to their own advantage,” State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said Wednesday.
Miller added that “any attempt by the military leaders in Niger to bring the Wagner forces into Niger would be a sign, yet another sign that they do not have the best interests of the Nigerien people at heart.”
Meanwhile, at least four European countries announced that plans to evacuate their citizens are underway in Niger.
Recently over the weekend, pictures from Niger showed protesters waving Russian flags, chanting Putin’s name.
French Foreign Ministry on Tuesday announced that it is preparing to evacuate its citizens and people of European nations who wish to leave Niger, days after President Mohamed Bazoum was overthrown by members of his presidential guard.
French Foreign Ministry’s statement comes after the supporters of the coup in Niger on Sunday burned French flags and attacked the French embassy in Niger’s capital, Niamey, Al Jazeera reported.
Germany also suspended collaboration and withhold financial aid to Niger, reported Al Jazeera.
At a press conference, a representative of the German foreign ministry said that all direct assistance payments to the Nigerian central government will be halted until further notice.
However, the coup has provoked a split reaction from countries in the Sahel region, where the threat of militant extremism in recent years has destabilized local governments and led to volatility.
On Monday, Mali and Burkina Faso’s governments said they would consider any military intervention “an act of war” against them and put their armies on standby.
On the other hand, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Sunday threatened to use force if Niger’s ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum, was not reinstated within one week.
ECOWAS also imposed a travel ban and asset freeze for the military officials involved in the coup attempt, as well as for their family members and civilians who accept to participate in any institutions or government established by the officials.
Burkina Faso and Mali expressed their solidarity with Nigerien authorities and said they would not participate in any measures against Niger by ECOWAS, calling the sanctions “illegal, illegitimate and inhuman.” Guinea also expressed its solidarity with Niger on Monday. (ANI)