Niamey is experiencing a two-way panic today. On the one hand, thousands of European citizens (the number is around 1,500) are hurrying to leave the country thanks to the evacuation program led by France, where Spain is also organizing the evacuation of 70 Spaniards in Nigerian territory. On the other hand, the coup plotters look at the clock and the hands ring out deafeningly as August 6th approaches, the deadline imposed by the leaders of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) for power to return to the democratic path. .
After the established time, ECOWAS it could intervene militarily in the country, unleashing a regional war given that Mali and Burkina Faso have already confirmed their support for the putschists in Niger. France also has the approval of the deposed government to adopt the military measures it deems useful to restore order in the country, while The United Kingdom and the European Union have expressed their agreement with the ultimatum offered by ECOWAS. The European position on the events in Niger makes the putschists fear a European intervention together with ECOWAS.
The Nigerian pressure group known as M62, whose pro-Russian roots link it to its Malian peer, Yorowolo, issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon demanding it “make the evacuation of Europeans conditional on the immediate departure of foreign military forces” and to ” surround the airport every day” until their demands are met. In the eyes of the M62, the evacuation of Europeans alone (of which 850 would be French citizens) responds to the intention of the European Union to participate in a military intervention. They say that if the French army doesn’t leave Niger in the next few days, it won’t allow its civilians to either. The same statement encourages the National Council for the Protection of the Homeland (CNSP) to suspend broadcasts by French media RFI and France24 in Niger and calls for the reopening of borders with allied nations.
The M62 thus intends to use European civilians as hostages in the event of a European attack or, in any case, to force the European Union to discard the possibility of participating in an increasingly immediate conflict in West Africa. French President Emmanuel Macron has already announced shortly after the attack on the French embassy by protesters sympathetic to the coup that he “will not tolerate attacks” against his citizens, assuring that his forces would be willing to intervene in case of French bloodshed. .
The CNSP has already heard some of the petitions presented by M62: Wednesday morning it was learned that Niger’s borders with Libya, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad had reopened, while the borders with Nigeria and Benin remain closed (both Ecowas countries included in the blockade against the coup plotters). The Nigerian Chief of Defense Staff, Christopher Musa, has already announced in a press conference that the Nigerian military “is ready to restore order in Niger as soon as (Nigerian President) Tinubu gives the order”, among quali was confident of victory, adding that “we will not allow them (the coup plotters) to succeed”.