Niger: monthly report February 2024

ECOWAS has lifted the sanctions imposed on Niger following the coup on July 26th. The decision came at the end of the extraordinary summit in Abuja on February 24th, called to discuss the withdrawal of the Sahel Alliance member countries (Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso) from the organization. Borders between Niamey and other members have been reopened, and the freeze on assets of Nigerien government officials has been lifted. Niger has been readmitted to ECOWAS institutions. In the official statement released at the end of the summit, ECOWAS nevertheless reminded member countries to comply with the obligations of the Cotonou Treaty, which regulates the exit procedure from the organization and urged AES countries to reconsider their decisions. The decision follows a series of openings by ECOWAS to Sahel countries. The West African bloc had reiterated its willingness to engage in dialogue aimed at reconciliation with AES countries and initiated the urgent procedure to activate standby forces to support the armies of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso in the fight against terrorism.

Niger strengthens its ties with Turkey. Nigerien Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine was received by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hakan Fidan and Defense Minister Yasar Guler. The parties discussed expanding cooperation in security and economic dominions. Meanwhile, the government continues its tough stance towards Europe. Several members of the European mission EUCAP Sahel stationed in Niamey, including mission head Katja Dominik, have been expelled. According to Nigerien authorities, EUCAP personnel entered the country without prior notification to local authorities; European authorities have labeled the incident as "another hostile and unjustified act against our personnel in recent months." Tightening measures also extend to the civil aviation sector. A statement released by the civil aviation authority, ASECNA, informs that all commercial flights to and from Nigeria are suspended until further notice. However, Nigerian airspace remains open to all domestic and international commercial flights, as well as overflights without landing. ASECNA's decision may be a response to measures issued by Abuja authorities on January 29, suspending civilian flights to and from Niger. The Nigerien government has also imposed a ban on French citizens entering its territory by air transport. Several airlines, including Air Burkina, have already declared readiness to comply with the new directives, while others like Royal Air Maroc have stated they will allow French citizens to board their direct flights to Niger only with special authorizations. Meanwhile, Tiani has endorsed the creation of a common currency with Mali and Burkina Faso in a televised address, stating that establishing a new currency would represent "a step towards breaking free from colonization." However, this decision comes amid a complicated situation, as the Central Bank of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) has expressed concerns about the sustainability of Niamey's debt. According to estimates from the institution, Niger's public debt could reach 314.5 billion CFA francs (516 million dollars) in interest and capital debt, a figure hardly sustainable considering the sanctions imposed on the country following the coup last July.

Burkina Faso has sought to reassure economic actors and civil society regarding its withdrawal from ECOWAS. Prime Minister De Tambela stated that while supporting the reasons behind the decision to leave the West African bloc, it will not be without consequences for the economies of the three countries. He urged fellow citizens to support the transitional authorities and the sister countries of the Sahel States Alliance. De Tambela also met with Burkina Faso industrialists' president and major union representatives to reassure them about the future of the national economy after leaving ECOWAS. "Exiting ECOWAS will allow us to reorganize in line with our interests and to sign bilateral agreements with interested parties in various fields based on mutual interests without interference from any power," the premier said. Additionally, Economy Minister Aboubakar Nacanabo stated that the country will remain within the UEMOA even after abandoning the trade bloc. "We have made it clear that our exit from ECOWAS is due to the abandonment of the founding ideals and the fact that it is often manipulated by foreign powers. As far as we are concerned, we have no similar complaints about UEMOA." Meanwhile, the path towards nuclear energy continues with a meeting between Foreign Minister Jean Marie Traore and the Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mikhail Chudakov. At the end of the meeting, Chudakov stated, "We want to assist Burkina Faso in its desire to build a nuclear power plant that will provide green, clean, and safe energy." In recent months, the Ouagadougou government has signed an MoU with the Russian Rosatom for the creation of a nuclear facility in the country.

Mali has also adjusted its stance regarding its withdrawal from ECOWAS. Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop declares that the country will not exit the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), thus continuing to use the CFA Franc. The statement comes in the context of Moody's initial assessments, which stated that leaving UEMOA would be almost entirely detrimental to the exiting countries. Departure from the West African bloc fuels opposition grievances. In a joint statement signed by the M5-RFP and Yelema (both parties supporting the transitional government), the two movements deemed the decision to leave ECOWAS as "serious" and "inopportune." In the same statement, the two movements urge the government to adopt a more inclusive approach in managing relations with communities in the northern part of the country after the breakdown of the Algiers agreements. Regarding the conflict with the northern provinces, Tuareg separatists have announced the removal of checkpoints in the north of the country. In an official statement, the CSP announces that all checkpoints established last December between Gao, Timbuktu, and the border with Algeria have been removed without providing further details regarding the nature of the decision. Meanwhile, the first information is arriving from the city of Menaka in the center of the country following the encirclement of the inhabited area by various armed groups active in the area, including IS local branch. Local sources confirm that fuel and food shortages are beginning in the inhabited area, a situation exacerbated after the conquest of Tidermène by armed groups in April last year. Finally, the Wagner Group has extended its control over gold mines in Mali. Local sources report that Russian mercenaries have taken possession of the N'Tillit mine, near Intahaka in the Gao region. The informal mining site was under the control of armed groups signatory to the Algiers agreements and has now come under the custody of Russian operatives.

Download the February 2024 report

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Italy, Niger. Europe, Africa. Two continents. One destiny. The event by Med-Or Foundation with Mohamed Bazoum

On Thursday 1 December, the event “Italy, Niger. Europe, Africa. Two continents. One destiny” by Med-Or Foundation was held at Luiss Guido Carli. It saw the participation of the President of the Republic of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum


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