Nearly two weeks have passed since the coup in Niger, and the country faces a difficult path to return to civilian rule, according to a researcher from the University of South Africa.
One of the two men vying for control is the President Mohamed Bazoum, the ousted president who last week said he’s being held hostage and has been publicly silent since then.
The other is Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, the military junta leader who asserts he acted out of concern for the country’s security and has encouraged Nigeriens to defend it from any foreign intervention.
Sipho Mantula, a researcher at the University of South Africa in Johannesburg, described the emerging power struggle as typical of recent political crises in the Sahel region.
“If you look at these two characters, it also characterizes the weak leadership, the deficit of leadership in the Sahel region, where you have a civilian leader failing and you have a military leader who wants to take power,” Mantula said.
Mantula also underscored the supposed fallout between Bazoum and Tchiani as a background to the conflict, a claim backed in a report by International Crisis Group which on Monday said Bazoum has been preparing to fire Tchiani.
Leaders of West Africa’s regional bloc said they would meet later this week to discuss next steps after Tchiani’s junta defied a deadline to reinstate the president, while Niger’s mutinous soldiers also closed its airspace and accused foreign powers of preparing an attack.