On July 26th in Niger, military officers of the Presidential Guard launched a coup against President Mohamed Bazoum. The officers were led by General Abdourahmane Tchiani, who proclaimed himself leader while promising to hand over power to civilians in three years. The coup was immediately condemned by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), an organization of 15 nations including Niger, which imposed harsh sanctions against Niger. ECOWAS has also threatened to deploy troops to Niger to restore Bazoum.
Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world. Over 40% of the population lives in extreme poverty. The sanctions imposed on Niger by ECOWAS are only worsening this situation. Blackouts due to electricity cutoffs are threatening to spoil millions of doses of vaccines needed in the country. Niger has plenty of resources, including for energy. In fact, France relies on Niger for 15% of its uranium imports; nuclear power is the main source of electricity in France. But Nigeriens see none of the benefits of these resources. Instead, French companies siphon off profits from the labor of Nigeriens.
Inflation has skyrocketed because of the sanctions and everyday people in Niger are unable to afford needed goods in order to live. The only way to transport goods into Niger now is through Burkina Faso. The road connecting the two countries is extremely dangerous, however, and military escorts have been needed to keep goods safe while they are being transported. The sanctions are doing nothing but making life worse for ordinary Nigeriens.
This coup will not help the working class and poor of Niger. The military officers are not anti-colonial revolutionaries. They cannot and will not dismantle the capitalist system of exploitation and imperialism that lies at the heart of Niger’s poverty. But many everyday Nigeriens, and people from other countries, support the coup because of its hostility towards France and other imperialist powers. Supporting the coup government is a way to stick it to French, other European, and U.S. imperialism for their plundering of Niger.
The spouting off by U.S. and French diplomats about supporting democracy is a load of nonsense. France, the U.S., and other imperialists don’t care about democracy in Niger. They care about maintaining their influence and military presence in West Africa and about Niger’s natural resources. Any military action by ECOWAS, France, or the U.S. would do nothing to restore democracy, but possibly plenty to restore the imperialist power of France and the U.S. in the country. For the people of Niger, it would mean bloodshed and destruction.
The solution for the working class and poor of Niger and of all the countries exploited by imperialism is a working-class struggle, united across international borders.