Niger’s recent military junta has sought assistance from the Russian mercenary group Wagner, as the deadline approaches for the release of the country’s ousted president or the potential for military intervention by the West African regional bloc.
According to Vanguard, Nigeria’s legislature rejected the request from Nigeria’s President and ECOWAS Chairman, Bola Tinubu, to deploy troops to Niger Republic after the deadline for the release of detained president Mohammed Bozoum expired.
Voice of America reported that General Salifou Mody, a coup leader, visited Mali and contacted someone from Wagner for assistance. Wassim Nasr, a journalist and senior research fellow at the Soufan Center, stated that three Malian sources and a French diplomat confirmed this meeting, which was first reported by France 24.
The junta’s request for Wagner’s help is driven by their desire to ensure their hold on power. However, there is no direct confirmation of Wagner’s involvement at this point.
Niger’s junta faces a deadline set by ECOWAS to release and reinstate the democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum. ECOWAS defense chiefs finalized an intervention plan, and a mediation team was denied access to the junta leader, General Abdourahamane Tchiani.
READ MORE: Niger Republic: Catholic Bishops, JNI, AANI, and Additional Groups Reject Military Involvement
The situation raises concerns about potential instability and the influence of foreign actors like Russia in the region. France’s foreign affairs ministry described Wagner as a “recipe for chaos.”
Some residents believe that the junta’s actions are hypocritical, opposing foreign interference while seeking assistance from Wagner and Russia. France’s foreign affairs minister warned the putschists to take the regional threat of force seriously.
The international community’s response to Wagner’s involvement remains uncertain, given its history in Mali and its designation as a terrorist organization by the United States.
Niger’s situation is complex, with significant military assistance from the United States and France to combat the growing jihadi threat. The potential for regional intervention poses questions about its nature and potential consequences.