December 2, 2023

The coup in Niger is the newest in a collection of putsches in West Africa which have introduced down civilian governments in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea. A state of affairs which generates robust tensions throughout the area in addition to with a number of worldwide companions, and particularly France. Interview with Gilles Yabi, political analyst.

The state of affairs stays unsure in Niger, every week after the army coup that overthrew elected President Mohamed Bazoum. France began on Tuesday 1er August the repatriation of its nationals in a context of rising tensions between the supporters of the junta and people of the ousted president.

Niger is the fourth nation in West Africa whose civilian authorities has been overthrown by the army previously three years. This putsch comes because the area tries to stem the advance of terrorist teams, notably within the area of the three borders (Mali, Burkina, Niger). For France, it might endorse the lack of considered one of its final army companions within the Sahel area, after the withdrawal of its troops from Mali and Burkina Faso in 2022 and 2023.

To research the explanations for these coups and the keenness they arouse amongst sure sections of the inhabitants, France 24 spoke with Gilles Yabi, political analyst, physician in improvement economics and founding father of the West African assume tank WATHI.

In Niger, as earlier than in Mali or Burkina Faso, demonstrators took to the streets in help of the army. Ought to this be seen as a rejection of the democratic course of?

The motivations of the demonstrators are after all various. We all know that in Niamey the opposition to the President Mohammad Bazoum, and doubtless extra to his celebration, the Nigerien Celebration for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS), in energy for 12 years, is essential. Some have taken to the streets to specific their opposition and never essentially by adhering to the precept of army coups. Others are in all probability genuinely satisfied that the army takeover is sweet for the nation. But it surely also needs to be famous that different Nigeriens additionally demonstrated in help of the president and had been shortly dispersed by the safety forces.

“We’re paying dearly for the failure to construct robust states”

Criticism of democracy is topic to warning as a result of to criticize a mannequin, it should have actually been carried out. In any other case, it’s its non-application and never its precept that poses the issue. All West African constitutions are democratic. Nevertheless, we all know very effectively that that is usually not the case with actual political practices. The criticisms towards the shortage of credibility of the elections, the instrumentalization of the judicial establishment to push back opponents, the extent of corruption and the widening gaps in wealth are after all official.

However that doesn’t name into query the essential precept of democracy, which consists in having rulers chosen by the individuals.whatever the phrases, and who work for them. What we’re paying dearly in the present day, for my part, is the failure to construct stable states with efficient establishments since independence.

These governance deficits function an argument for the army to grab energy and meet with a sure echo within the inhabitants. When you have got a rustic on the verge of safety collapse underneath a democratic authorities, as was the case in Burkina Faso for instance however not in Niger, one can perceive {that a} important a part of the inhabitants helps troopers who promise to revive Safety. However troopers should not meant to steer states and there’s no assure that they’re higher representatives of the pursuits of the individuals than an elected civilian. The truth is that they impose themselves by the pressure that they’re supposed to make use of solely to imagine their mission of defending the integrity of the territory.

Whereas ECOWAS introduced extreme sanctions towards the initiators of the coup in Niger, Guinea, Mali and Burkina rejected these measures and warned towards any army intervention. Can we converse in the present day in West Africa of an ideological battle between two blocs?

There may be certainly a fragmentation of the West African area which threatens regional integration : on the one hand, those that desire a elementary break in state politics, even when it means going by means of army transitions, and people who assume that regardless of the dysfunctions of civil and “democratic” governance, the army can’t be the answer . Behind this regional ideological battle, there may be additionally the connection with international companions and particularly France.

What’s the easiest way to vary the connection with the previous colonial energy? To place it merely, there are type of supporters of the delicate technique and supporters of the robust technique. Some contemplate it important to take the geopolitical and financial surroundings into consideration in an effort to defend the pursuits of African international locations, advance decision-making autonomy, and develop robust civilian and army establishments. Others are in favor of a radical change within the relationship with France, which notably entails the departure of all French forces. Within the case of Niger, troopers from different European international locations and American troopers are additionally current and we don’t but know the true place of the putschist officers on this presence.

Learn additionallyCoup in Niger: Bazoum tried to “acquire autonomy” towards his presidential guard

In Mali, Burkina and now in Niger, the voice of France appears more and more inaudible. What are the principle causes?

To start with, I believe we’ve got to cease pretending that the consequences of colonization have stopped producing outcomes. It isn’t as a result of the French president was not born at the moment that the consequences of political and financial domination don’t prolong into the current. Historical past just isn’t made up of a succession of “watertight” intervals that don’t have anything to do with one another.

France should use clear language and acknowledge that it has strategic pursuits within the area. These have actually diminished over time, however this doesn’t change the truth that the populations contemplate themselves wronged by formal and casual agreements and contemplate that these ought to be reviewed. On this regard, Niger is an emblematic case. It’s a nation whose populations are primarily poor, have little entry to electrical energy outdoors the large cities, whereas it has participated for many years within the provide of uranium to French energy stations. It isn’t sufficient to watch that this provide is far much less strategic in the present day than previously to brush apart any point out of this lengthy unequal relationship.

On the army stage, the argument usually put ahead by France that it’s there solely to assist the international locations of the area can be very largely rejected. Since independence, it has maintained everlasting bases in a number of of its former colonies. This presence is a part of a method of political and financial affect and contributes to France’s place on the planet. There may be nothing incorrect with defending one’s pursuits, all the large and medium powers do it, however it needs to be acknowledged and we’ve got to debate and negotiate to ultimately discover mutually helpful agreements. Or withdraw when requested.

Added to this are little phrases and feedback perceived as condescending, on demography in Africa for instance, which give the impression that the French political authorities imagine they will free themselves from any diplomatic delicacy in terms of African international locations. .

On the identical time, it should be acknowledged that France is in the present day a straightforward goal, that it’s not accountable for all of the evils both. Spending loads of time and power recriminating towards him is counterproductive. France has its place like different companions resembling China, the US, India or Russia. West Africa should flip its again on ideological quarrels and refocus on precedence inside tasks resembling training, the financial system and the strengthening of our establishments. As a result of it’s by consolidating our personal bases that we can higher defend our long-term pursuits in a world the place the stability of energy stays decisive.