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9 Aug, 2023 19:07

EU preparing sanctions against Niger – media

The criteria for punishment would include the “undermining of democracy,” officials told Reuters
EU preparing sanctions against Niger – media

The European Union is preparing to impose sanctions on the new military government in Niger, European sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

An EU diplomat and an official involved in formulating the sanctions confirmed the bloc was devising criteria for punishment, set to include the “undermining of democracy.” 

The formula is likely to be agreed upon soon, the official told the news outlet.

“The next step would be sanctions against individual members of the military government, said to be responsible for the ousting of former president Mohamed Bazoum last month,” the diplomat said.

No date has been supplied for when these sanctions might materialize, though foreign ministers from the bloc’s 27 countries are expected to discuss potential sanctions as well as other Niger-related issues when they meet in Toledo on August 31.

The EU has suspended security and financial support for Niger in response to last month’s seizure of power by a military faction led by General Abdourahamane Tchiani, cutting the country off from hundreds of thousands of euros in aid. The US and Canada have also suspended some assistance programs, and several European countries – led by France, the former colonial ruler of Niger – have also cut the country off. 

Credit rating agency Moody’s downgraded Niger last week, just days after the country banned uranium and gold exports to France, cutting Paris off from the world’s seventh-largest producer of the nuclear mineral – and the second-largest supplier to the EU. The World Bank has also terminated public-sector payments to Niger.

West African regional partnership ECOWAS also devised a plan for military intervention in the country last week, giving the new government until Sunday to reinstate Bazoum. 

However, that deadline has passed without the threatened invasion, as ECOWAS is reportedly unprepared for a full-scale military intervention, according to senior military sources who spoke to the Wall Street Journal. 

Neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali have warned ECOWAS against military intervention, stating this would “amount to a declaration of war” on both countries and trigger self-defensive responses. Bazoum, currently in prison, has urged Washington to intervene, lest all of the Sahel “fall to Russian influence” – despite a lack of evidence that Moscow played any role in the coup. US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland flew to Niger to pressure the new government, warning them against striking any deals with Russian private military company Wagner and urging them to restore the Washington-friendly status quo.

Nigeriens largely supported the coup, according to a recent survey by The Economist – 78% backed the takeover, while 73% wanted their new leaders to retain power “for an extended period” or “until new elections are held.”