Al Jazeera Centre for Studies held a webinar in collaboration with Al Jazeera Mubasher under the title, “The Coup in Niger: Regional and International Implications”, on Sunday, 3 September 2023 featuring researchers specialising in African affairs: Hassane Kacimi, Hakeem Alade Najimdeen, Mohamed Turshin and Idriss Ayat.
Reasons for the coup
The webinar deduced that the reasons for the military coup that took place in Niger on 26 July 2023 are largely attributed to the mistakes committed by the ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, including:
- The widespread electoral fraud in the 2020 elections, in which the ruling party excluded its competitors, and the strong evidence pointing to French intervention in the elections
- Bazoum's failure to take the governance equations that have been established in the country over the past decades into account, including the sensitive balance between ethnic groups and regions in the distribution of important positions; Bazoum leaned towards reducing the influence of the Hausa majority in favour of smaller ethnic minorities, relying on French support.
- Bazoum’s disregard for the role of the military in governance, a role that had been firmly established over the past 35 years; he insisted on adopting domestic, regional and international policies, especially those related to regional security arrangements for combatting terrorism, without the consent and approval of military leaders. The military had proposed arrangements with the neighbouring republics of Mali and Burkina Faso; and Bazoum rejected them, citing his ties to Russia and the Wagner Group.
- Bazoum’s elimination of many of the privileges that previous presidents had granted to senior military leaders as "gifts" when they were transferred or promoted
These are some of the reasons why the military coup leaders decided to overthrow him, as maintained by the speakers at the conference.
Implications of the coup
The webinar speakers pointed out that the coup has significant regional and international implications, including France's loss of influence in Francophone Africa, especially in the political, military, and economic spheres. This is particularly significant given the success of other coups – like those in Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Chad – which has resulted in the rise of regimes that are less aligned with France than those of past decades.
Another important implication of the coup is the increase of instability in the African continent. This is because the coup is likely to trigger a series of counter-coups as countries that feel they are losing their influence seek to regain it in the context of the international competition for Africa’s resources and wealth. In other words, if the essence of the coup is replacing one international actor with another, the Nigerien people are unlikely to benefit from it; nor will it lead to increased security, stability or development for them.
A new approach
The speakers concluded by emphasising the need for African countries to adopt a new approach to their foreign relations. This approach should not be based on "dependency" on certain foreign powers but instead on establishing external relationships built on mutual interests, while ensuring the independence of decision-making and avoiding involvement in regional and international conflicts that have only brought the continent more suffering, poverty, corruption and oppression.