The International Peoples’ Assembly (AIP), a committee that coordinates political organizations and social movements in the five continents of the world, condemned what it called an “imperialist offensive” against Niger, an African country whose president, Mohamed Bazoum, was ousted on July 26 by a coup d’état led by a military junta.
In a statement last Tuesday (8), the AIP criticized the ultimatum imposed on Niger by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) and the French government. The ECOWAS had stated that, if the ousted government was not returned by last Sunday (6), “it would take all necessary measures”, which could “include the use of force”.
“Two days ago, the ultimatum given by the ECOWAS leaders to launch a war against Niger expired. In the absence of an official declaration renouncing this option, the people of Niger are obliged to defend themselves against this imperialist offensive”, states the note from the AIP.
“Niger and several countries in Africa have been grappling with the effects of NATO-led intervention for years. [Organização do Tratado dos Atlântico Norte — a aliança militar que reúne as potências ocidentais, da qual a França faz parte] in Libya in 2011, which created regional instability and the spread of terrorist organizations across West Africa. Organized military interventions with the supposed aim of securing peace and democracy have only resulted in prolonged military conflicts and significant loss of life,” argues the Assembly.
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In the days after the coup d’état, supporters of the coup movement took to the streets, transforming the sub-Saharan African country into the stage of a geopolitical dispute between Russia and the West. During the support protests, the presence of Russian flags and words of support for Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin were recorded. The crisis is also marked by a rejection of France, which colonized the African country, and by an anti-Western narrative in general.
Before the coup, the European Union had signed an agreement providing financial support to the country for security actions, which was withdrawn after taking power. The interest of Europeans in the region is partly explained by the emigration route of Africans to Europe, who use the largest city in Niger, Agadez, as a gateway to the desert, with the aim of reaching Libya and crossing the Mediterranean towards the Italy.
According to the NGO Oxfam, estimates show that between 80,000 and 150,000 people crossed the desert area of northeast Niger on their way to Europe in 2015. Most of the emigrants are young men from Cameroon, Senegal, Gambia and Guinea.
To complicate the scenario, ECOWAS imposed sanctions on the country, suspending “all commercial and financial transactions” between its 15 Member States and Niger. In addition, in a statement, ECOWAS demanded the “immediate release” of the ousted president.
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Read the full statement from the International Assembly of Peoples:
“August 8, 2023
The International Assembly of Peoples expresses its solidarity with the people of Niger in the struggle in defense of their national sovereignty and resistance to the military intervention of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), NATO, France and the United States of America.
Two days ago, the ultimatum given by ECOWAS leaders to launch a war against Niger expired. In the absence of an official declaration renouncing this option, the people of Niger are obliged to defend themselves against this imperialist offensive.
The proud people of Niger gathered in their thousands at the Seyni Kountché stadium in Niamey to say no to this aggression and to defend their country’s sovereignty and dignity with their bodies. The governments of Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea said no to this NATO-orchestrated colonial operation, with the connivance of ECOWAS leaders as its instruments. We join them and popular West African movements in asserting that military intervention would only foment chaos and violence in the region.
Niger and several countries in Africa have for years been grappling with the effects of the NATO-led intervention in Libya in 2011, which created regional instability and the spread of terrorist organizations across West Africa. Organized military interventions with the purported aim of securing peace and democracy have only resulted in prolonged military conflicts and significant loss of life.
The overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum in Niger follows popularly supported overthrows of governments in Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso. In all these cases, the population expressed its indignation against the conditions that are the direct result of the continued dominance of French neocolonialism and the French military presence in the region.
ECOWAS had the objective of strengthening regional economic, social and cultural integration within the framework of a broader Pan-Africanism. In recent years, West African leaders have betrayed their people and abandoned this historic cause. The use of organizations like ECOWAS and NATO to defend the interests of the imperialist powers and support governments that are widely rejected by the people goes against all principles of democracy, peace and prosperity. The level of political mobilization against neo-colonial rule must be understood as a consequence of the ECOWAS declaration of war against Niger.
The people of Niger have the right to pursue peace and economic development to satisfy their material and social needs. Sanctions and military intervention will only sabotage the chance for development and lead the country to further loss of human life.
In this way, the International Assembly of Peoples is united with the people of Niger in their demands:
1. The cessation of all attempts at military intervention by ECOWAS, NATO or France.
2. The end of all sanctions against Niger.
3. The immediate removal of foreign military bases in Niger and other African countries.
We are all Nigerians!
Editing: Thalita Pires