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Putin urges for 'peaceful resolution' in Niger after military coup in telephonic call with Mali's President

"In particular, [they] emphasized the need to settle the situation around the Republic of Niger exclusively by peaceful political and diplomatic means," said the Kremlin in a statement.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee Moscow Published on: August 15, 2023 22:52 IST
Russian President Vladimir Putin
Image Source : AP Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday urged for a 'peaceful resolution' to the ongoing political pandemonium in Niger following a military coup, in a telephonic call with Mali's interim President Assimi Goita, TASS news agency reports.

Notably, the July 26 coup, in which mutinous soldiers ousted President Mohamed Bazoum and installed Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani as head of state, adds another layer of complexity to West Africa’s Sahel region that’s struggling with military takeovers, spreading Islamic extremism and a shift by some states toward Russia and its proxy, the Wagner mercenary group.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Kremlin said, "At the initiative of the Malian side, Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the Transitional Period of the Republic of Mali Assimi Goita." 

"In particular, [they] emphasized the need to settle the situation around the Republic of Niger exclusively by peaceful political and diplomatic means," the Kremlin further said. His calls for a peaceful resolution was reiterated by Mali's Goita.

"The countries of the Sahara-Sahel region, such as the Central African Republic and Mali, were under direct attack from numerous terrorist groups after the US and its allies unleashed aggression against Libya, which led to the collapse of the Libyan state," said Putin during a pre-recorded message at the Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS) on Tuesday.

It is worth mentioning that due to the continued threat of attacks by Islamist extremists, the relations between West African countries and the West have soured, giving Russia a way to exploit the situation for increasing their influence as well as to achieve their economic and diplomatic objectives. They have also provided arms to these countries.

Days after last month's coup, pro-military junta supporters lit the French embassy in Nigerien capital Niamey on fire, waved Russian flags and chanted Putin's name, in a sign of the country's potential bonhomie with Moscow.' 

Additionally, Mali is one of the few countries in the West African region who has opposed military intervention and said that a 'declaration of war' against the Niger junta would be considered an act of war against their own country as well.

It has also urged the United Nations and the African Union (AU) to prevent any military intervention in Niger, while hinting at signs of a possible partnership between the junta and the Wagner mercenary group, reported CNN. Wagner fighters are already active in Mali and Burkina Faso, both countries who have spoken against military intervention in Niger.

Meanwhile, Niger’s mutinous soldiers say they will prosecute deposed President Bazoum for “high treason” and undermining state security, in an announcement hours after the junta said they were open to dialogue with West African nations to resolve the mounting regional crisis. 

If found guilty, Bazoum could face the death penalty, according to Niger’s penal code. Spokesman Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane said on state television Sunday night the military regime had “gathered the necessary evidence to prosecute before competent national and international authorities the ousted president and his local and foreign accomplices for high treason and for undermining the internal and external security of Niger.”

International pressure is growing on the junta to release and reinstate Bazoum. Immediately after the coup, the West African regional bloc ECOWAS gave the regime seven days to return him to power or threatened military force, but that deadline came and went with no action from either side.

Some Western officials had previously alleged that the junta had threatened to kill ousted President Mohamed Bazoum if neighbouring countries attempt a military intervention in the country to reinstate his rule.

ALSO READ | Niger’s coup announces to prosecute deposed President Mohamed Bazoum for 'high treason, undermining security'

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