The new strongmen of the Sahel, By Chidi Anselm Odinkalu


Reading Time: 7 mins read


winning 93%

previously decided


at least 21 attempts

45% of coups

an epidemic of coups

civilian coup

violent referendum

scores were killed



topple the constitution

“foreign mercenaries”


foreign jihadists

prohibition against coups



fifth successful coup

Africa Governance Report, 2023


rising insecurity

“go to reason”

justified on similar grounds



Six weeks before the coup in Niamey, the European Union on 8 June announced military assistance “worth €4.7 million to support the Nigerien Armed Forces with military equipment designed to deliver lethal force in full respect of relevant international law.” According to the EU, “the assistance measure will strengthen the operational capacities of the Nigerien Armed Forces by facilitating the mobility, presence and security of the land forces in the most insecure areas of Niger.” It is uncertain whether any of the equipment delivered under this programme of assistance was deployed in this coup. However, the symbolisms are at best wretched and it is difficult for the EU to escape the imputations that must flow from the optics.

scheduled an extraordinary summit in Abuja on Sunday, 30 July (as this column goes to press) to deliberate on the situation. For its part, the Peace and Security Council of the AU, in a communique on 28 July, frowned at the “alarming resurgence of military coups” and asked Niger’s military “to immediately and unconditionally return to the barracks.”

“immediate and unconditional” release of deposed President Bazoum, implying a limited recognition of sorts. The United State has made a similar demand.

familiar menu of measures, including suspension of Niger from the Community, likely to be followed shortly thereafter by similar measures by the African Union. In 20 years, the African Union has implemented such measures in at least 14 member countries. That has not stemmed the rising attraction of coups on the continent.

recent evidence that Africans in many countries are increasingly open to the return of military rule under certain conditions. This is a tragic turn of events. The continent can still stem this tide but, to do that, Africa’s institutions can no longer afford to certify crooked elections or approbate presidents who manufacture ways to stay in power until the day after eternity. What is good against the soldiers must be good also for their civilian wannabes.








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