Hands off Niger!

Statement from the Revolutionary Communists, Norway (RK).

On Wednesday 26 July, the president of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, was deposed by the presidential guard. Two days later, General Abdourahamane Tchiani announced that he was the country’s new president, and that the country was now governed by the National Council for the Protection of the Fatherland (CNSP) junta. The new leadership immediately canceled several military cooperation agreements with France and the United States. It is unknown what will happen next with the French and American bases in the country.

ECOWAS, an intergovernmental organization of 15 West African countries under strong French influence, immediately condemned the coup and imposed heavy sanctions on Niger. The USA and the EU have also introduced sanctions. ECOWAS then issued an ultimatum to the junta to reinstate President Bazoum, with threats of military intervention. The deadline for the ultimatum expired yesterday, August 6, and it is an open question whether ECOWAS will follow through on threats of war — and whether, if so, they will receive military support from France.

The authorities in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea have expressed support for the new authorities in Niger, and condemn the sanctions against the country. They also say that a military action against Niger will be interpreted as a declaration of war against them — a military intervention in Niger will therefore immediately become a regional war.

Niger was a French colony until the country gained its formal independence in 1960. Since then, France has continued to plunder Niger for uranium and other resources. One in three light bulbs in France is powered by Nigerian uranium, while over 85% of Nigerians do not have access to electricity.

In recent years, West Africa has been the scene of growing rivalry between the imperialists. Several of Niger’s neighboring countries in the Sahel region have forged closer ties with Russian imperialism, and the authorities in Mali have established cooperation with the Russian Wagner battalion after French and American troops were thrown out of the country. Russia plays a relatively insignificant role in Niger today, but it is likely that the new authorities in Niger will tie themselves more closely to Russia, just like their neighbors in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso. The junta in Niger has already requested military support from Wagner.

The coup in Niger is taking place against the background of a wave of anti-Western (and particularly anti-French) protests in the country. The Nigerien masses want a free and independent Niger, which can develop independently of imperialist plunder and interference. Particularly important is the demand that French and American troops leave the country. The coup regime is riding the wave of righteous protests, but the new rulers are unable to free the country from the imperialist system — only maneuvering within it, especially by associating themselves more closely with Russian imperialism. The Russian imperialists know this very well, and are exploiting the righteous anti-Western uprisings in West Africa for their own purposes.

Let it be absolutely clear: the French imperialists and ECOWAS do not give a damn about “defending democracy”, “fighting terrorism” or “developing the Sahel region”. The aim of the French imperialists is, firstly, to continue the plundering of Niger and the Nigerien people, and secondly, to contain their imperialist rivals in West Africa, primarily Russia. A military intervention by ECOWAS, on behalf of French imperialism, will cause great suffering to Niger.

We support the Nigerien people’s right to self-determination and we condemn ECOWAS’s threats of military intervention. Furthermore, we condemn the sanctions against Niger. This should not be confused with political support for the junta, which primarily represents the local Nigerien ruling class, and not the masses of the Nigerien people. Only the Nigerien proletariat can stand at the forefront of real independence, in cooperation with other democratic forces in the country.

Our position is:

— No to military intervention in Niger!
— Down with the sanctions!
— France, the USA and Russia, out of the Sahel area!
— For a free and independent Africa!

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