(Statements) African progressives on the coup in Niger

niger coup

Below is a regularly updated collection of statements by African socialists, trade unions and democratic forces on the recent coup in Niger. This includes statements by: Nigeria Labour Congress, Seneplus (Senegal/various), Movement for a Socialist Alternative (Nigeria), Socialist Labour (Nigeria), Socialist Workers League (Nigeria), Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard (Nigeria) and Revolutionary Communist International Tendency.

This page will be continuously updated. Please send statements to editor@links.org.au.

Nigeria Labour Congress: ECOWAS leadership must listen to the people

First published by Nigeria Labour Congress on August 13.

At the end of the second extraordinary summit of the Authority of ECOWAS (Committee of Heads of State/Governments) on Thursday, August 10, 2023, it issued a terse statement ”directing the Committee of Chief of Defence Staff to activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its elements immediately;

“Deployment of the ECOWAS standby force to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger;

In order to “underscore its continued commitment to restoring constitutional order through peaceful means”.

This is a euphemism for war, immediate war on Niger Republic, our consistently most peaceful neighbour.

It will amount to stating the obvious that we at the Nigeria Labour Congress are averse to military rule. Indeed the history of the struggle for democratic rule in Nigeria cannot be complete without mentioning the illustrious contribution of the Labour Movement.

Despite our unimpeachable credentials in the popular struggle against military rule, we would strongly counsel against the use of military force to remove the military junta in Niger Republic as the disadvantages clearly outweigh the benefits….from putting in danger the lives of the deposed President Bazoum and his family to the destabilisation of the entire region including Northern Nigeria, and loss of many lives in and out of the battle field. Equally of significance is the unintended possibility of turning Niger into a fertile territory for proxy wars.

Even after the war is over, the region must brace itself for raised acts of terrorism or insurgency just as it might signal the end of ECOWAS as we know it today given the scenario of ten members fighting five.

Suspicions are rife that the ECOWAS leadership is trying to pull out of the fire the nut for and on behalf of another or others. While we cannot ascertain the veracity of these claims, ECOWAS must conduct itself in such a manner that its citizens and the world would believe it has a mind of its own.

Coupled with this, we at the Nigeria Labour Congress have reason to believe that ECOWAS in part is victim of its double standards or discriminatory policies as it was in some instances seen as condoning and even celebrating coups.

In the extant matter of Niger Republic, we equally do believe that ECOWAS did not exhaust the process of dialogue before beating war drums. The missions to Niamey were seen as an afterthought.

One of the consequences of weaponising electricity supply to Niger Republic is the right of proportionate responsorial action by way of Niger Republic damming the Niger River with unimaginable effects on our echo system.

Beyond all this, time has come for us to ask ourselves if we have the economic strength to prosecute this war. Even seasoned Generals do admit that we can often predict the beginning of wars but can seldom tell how they end.

As we stated at the beginning of this statement, we are advocates of democracy and will do all that is necessary to promote and preserve it.

However, what will preserve democracy in our territories will not be the threat or use of military force against sovereign nations but the observance of the core values and rules of democracy. It is up to our Presidents or political leaders to do the needful.

It is in consideration of these that we join other organisations and respected voices in saying No to War!

Comrade Joe Ajaero, NLC President

Joint statement: No to ECOWAS military intervention in Niger

First published by Seneplus via Journal des Alternatives – une plateforme altermondialiste on August 12.

Introduction by Ronald Cameron (Quebec solidarity activist): We are sharing this appeal published on the Senegalese website Seneplus, supported by 168 signatories from several parts of the world. The list of initial signatories follows the text. Others have been added since it was published on August 8. This appeal remains relevant with the decision by ECOWAS to prepare its military forces to intervene in Niger.

This appeal boils down to opposing the threat. This is right, but ignores the need to give the people of Niger the means to control their own destiny. There is no possibility of the return of deposed President Mohamed Bazoum. This is a request by ECOWAS to consolidate Western imperialist power.

However decolonial sentiment may be expressed, it must be supported. However, as the declaration states, the future of Niger must be decided by the people of Niger themselves. Thus, if discussion with the military is necessary, it must lead to the organisation of free elections, their withdrawal from government and the handing over of power to a democratically elected government that respects the will of the people of Niger to free themselves from this colonial yoke.

The other world we want involves a project for emancipation from all the imperialisms on the planet.

We, the signatories to this declaration, strong in our commitment to peace, democracy, national sovereignty and pan-Africanism, express our resolute and unequivocal opposition to any military intervention in Niger initiated directly or indirectly by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in explicit or implicit alliance with any foreign power whatsoever.

We are deeply convinced that such an intervention would represent a regression in the course of history, ignoring the choice of the African peoples for peace and freedom. It would be strongly and vehemently rejected not only by all the peoples of West Africa, but also by defenders of the pan-African ideal, who are hostile to any military intervention not supported by the peoples themselves. This opposition will be all the stronger given that this region of the African continent has already been plagued for several years by growing insecurity, of which the people are unfortunately the first victims.

The refusal to take into account the clearly expressed desire of the youth of Niger and West Africa to maintain equitable relations, free of any neo-colonial ulterior motive, with all potential partners, is largely at the root of the situation in Niger and West Africa. The persistence of French tutelage in various forms symbolises unfinished decolonisation, which has become unbearable for young Africans.

In a world where democracy, freedom and citizens' rights are increasingly recognised as fundamental, we, the undersigned, wish to strongly reaffirm our commitment to these inalienable values. It is with unwavering determination that we advocate the ideal of good governance and respect for democratic principles in the management of states and in methods of access to power.

We are signing this text in order to make our message heard loud and clear: the immediate future of Niger must be determined by the Nigeriens themselves and, secondarily, facilitated by those of goodwill willing to encourage all the parties concerned to pursue dialogue with a view to finding peaceful solutions to the current crisis.

Let there be no mistake about our position. Today, by signing this letter, we are demonstrating our commitment to democratic principles, freedom and citizens' rights, and our opposition to any form of military intervention that would run counter to these values, which we hold sacred.

The situation in the Sahel, and the threat of military intervention in Niger, in the heart of West Africa, under the aegis of an organisation dedicated to economic integration, is one of the paradoxes, and not the least, of the loss of bearings of Africa's political elites. ECOWAS, an organisation whose founding principle is to make borders between member countries porous, to facilitate the movement of people and goods, to build a West African identity through a common identity document, a common passport and, soon, a common currency, is betraying its historic mission by waging a war to the detriment of our populations.

Click here to see the initial list of 168 signatories in alphabetical order. You can sign this petition by adding your name and affiliation in the comments window.

Movement for a Socialist Alternative (Nigeria): Niger military coup  — Workers all over must oppose military invasion and capitalism

First published at Movement for a Socialist Alternative on August 12.

*No to war or any military invasion of Niger.

*No Nigerian soldier needs to go die to defend a bourgeois democracy that impoverishes and oppresses the working masses in Niger.

*No to sanction against the working masses of Niger.

*For the unity of the working masses & rank-and-file of the military and police to act together against Capitalism & Imperialism.

*For Solidarity with Workers in Niger and Sahel region Opposing Capitalism & Imperialism.

Insecurity has been the main excuse put forward by the putschists in the whole of the Sahel, including Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and now in Niger. ECOWAS, through its current head Bola Tinubu, president of Nigeria, issued a one-week ultimatum for the junta headed by Abdourahamane Tchiani to hand over power back to the ousted leader still under house arrest in the presidential villa. The one-week deadline is gone. The question of a military invasion of Niger to restore bourgeois democracy has become the order of the day, with Tinubu forwarding a letter to the Senate seeking approval for the Nigerian military to go to war. Even with the military regimes in Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso issuing statements to the fact that any invasion of Niger on the above account is a declaration of war against them as well, they will not watch events hands Akimbo.

We are, therefore, likely faced with the possibility of war in the Sahel, which in all terms will also turn out a proxy war both for French imperialism and its Western allies backing Nigeria and other ECOWAS allied forces on one side and against Niger, with Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and the Wagner mercenary group, and possible also China on the other side. All of these forces represent their own selfish ends and ultimately set up the Sahel region as a new front in the New Cold War already seen raging on for one and half years in Ukraine.    

The MSA categorically opposes the war in Niger and calls on the workers and the trade unions in Nigeria to commence a campaign of opposing the Tinubu regime, sending Nigerian troops to Niger. This very call must be extended to all of the ECOWAS countries, with workers not only stating their opposition to any military invasion of Niger but as well as organising themselves to fully take their destiny into their own hands by coming into the arena of struggle, and providing leadership for the whole of the working masses inclusive of the rank and file of the military and the police in a struggle against capitalism and imperialism.

Why this new wave of coup d’état in Africa?

The coup plotters themselves have zeroed in on the question of insecurity, and “bad governance” on the part of the overthrown civilian rulers, who live a luxurious life in a world of complete affluence, distinct and different from that of the people they governed, who are condemned to live in penury and abject poverty.

A majority of these discontented younger officers, in carrying their coups, blamed the state of insecurity on the overthrown rulers for not providing the necessary wherewithal and weapons with which to effectively prosecute and combat the growing state of insecurity fueled by Jihadists insurgency in the form of various Islamic militant groups with links and support from Al-Qaeda and ISIS in the Middle-east, not excluding Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria as well. In so doing, the coupists in the Sahel region are merely reducing the question of Islamic insurgency to just a military question. But the efforts of these new rulers in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, even with the support of the Wagner mercenary group, have not, to date, declared a complete victory of them.

It will also be completely wrong to locate it within the fervent for a new messianic desire to espouse and extend the frontiers of Islam by the various Islamic Jihadist groups. At the heart of it is the question of poverty that a majority of the people in Africa are condemned into. And as well as the failure of the ruling elites since flag independence to develop the means of production with which to cater for the needs of the working masses and youths on the African continent.

Flag independence has done nothing whatsoever to reorder the established colonial arrangement that initially condemned Africa to the lowest rung of the capitalist world order as a haven of producing raw material for the industrial West, inclusive of China now, no more, no less. A situation which denies Africa the opportunity to take control of its wealth and resources and employ the same to need the needs and aspirations of Africans themselves. It follows, therefore, that without taking on capitalism and imperialism, a system that allows for the private domination of the wealth of society by a few, both locally and internationally, Africa will continue to crawl, moving from one crisis to the other despite its enormous wealth and resources.

The anti-French sentiment & turn to Russia not anti-imperialism

This new wave of successful coups has also been heralded by a growing anti-France sentiment, with the new rulers evicting French troops from their territories. The 400 French Special Forces left Burkina Faso following a one-month notice in January 2023 to vacate. Last year, French troops under the Barkhane unit withdrew from Mali. In June, Col. Assimi Goita, the head of the Malian Junta, ordered the 12,000 peacekeeping troops in Mali to leave as well. French troops have also left the Central African Republic. On the heels of this withdrawal is a mass protest in these countries lashed with anti-French sentiments largely over their ineffectiveness in helping combat the insurgency. Side by side with is also pro-Russia sentiments. But attention is now on Niger, where 1000 French troops are also located. Will the bug bite next in Niger, and after then, where next?

But this question will likely be determined by how French imperialism treats the regime. French President Emmanuel Macron has already declared the coup as “Illegitimate” and warned that France “will not tolerate any attack on…its interest”. This interest is largely on the grounds of economics. Uranium, for example, provides over 75% of the foreign exchange earnings of Niger, which French companies largely dominate. To be the 7th highest Uranium producer in the world and yet one of the world’s poorest countries is a contradiction in itself. The picture is not any different from other African countries. Another example is Nigeria, though colonised by Britain and ranked 7th on the OPEC list of Crude oil production. Still, it lacks the ability to refine the small product for its local use. Importing fuel through shipload makes it one of the costliest in the world in comparison to other wage earners, with workers’ monthly minimum wage at 30, 000 Naira a month ($38 a month) and a litre for fuel selling for between N650 and N750 ($1) depending on the part of the country you are.

It is this huge anti-French sentiment that explains why France agrees to withdraw her troops, and any military intervention will also not just be confronting the Tchiani-led junta in Niger but as well as the teeming population of the working masses on the street in their millions in support of the coup.

A direct consequence, though, of the failure of the neo-colonial capitalist domination of the economy from one regime to another regime, even inclusive of previous military regimes as well. However, what is not very clear at this stage is the fact that the working masses, having known what they don’t want, yet do not fully know the only way forward and out of the crisis of governance plaguing the effort of nation-building in Africa is in the working masses consciously coming into the arena of struggle in their own name and class with the full support of the rank and file of the military and police in a united action to end the rule of capitalism and imperialism.

Marxists must be at the forefront in pointing out that this contradiction of huge abundant mineral resources that cannot be employed to meet the needs of the working masses is largely because it is extracted to enrich a few who front for big business locally and internationally. Added to the above is the dictate of both micro and macroeconomic policies by the IMF and World Bank, and other International Financial Institutions for the purpose of ensuring that the state plays no role whatsoever in taking control of the wealth of society.

And as long as this is the situation, the goal of constant and regular electricity supply and steel production, all key essentials for industrialisation and developing the means of production in the direction to meet the needs of the working masses as opposed to tending to the greed for profit by big business will not occur. This conscious act on the part of the IMF and World Bank aims to ensure that the industrial West and China are not rivalled and continue to be the only industrial base of the universe while Latin America and Africa continue to be the market for manufactured goods.

This is not the agenda of the coup plotters or the Tchiani junta in Niger, rather than a movement to reverse the trend and aim at mobilising the working masses on a path that seeks to take control of the resources by nationalising the commanding sector of the economy under the democratic control and management of the working people. The Junta leadership both in Mali and Burkina Faso have we are witnessing mass protests with crowds flying Russian flags, and Captain Ibrahim Traore, the 34-year head of the Junta in Burkina Faso, stated at the recently held Russia-Africa summit hosted by Putin in St. Petersburg that “The region is shaken up by the desire for change… to turn our backs on traditional partners and to turn to our real friends, like Russia which has supported us through decolonisation until today.”

French losses in the Sahel region have turned out to be gains for Russia, with the new junta rulers increasingly turning to Wagner group led mercenary by Yevgeny Prigozhin. According to a news report by the BBC, the US alleged that the Wagner group is “contracted at a cost of $10 million per month” in Mali.  

The above can only mean that the Wagner group and Russia are not engaged in any charity or philanthropic military venture. The Wagner group does not hide its mercenary credential as fighting particularly for no justifiable humane reason but for the sake of cash and the huge resources that can be earned intervening on behalf of itself and the Russian state in these rich reserves of abundant raw material. It is taking full advantage of one of the legacies of the Russian Revolution in opposing colonisation, which even the Stalinist regime in the former Soviet Union played upon then to support the decolonisation in Africa as a means of gaining spheres of influence for itself in the Cold War era.

Why is Tinubu leading the onslaught for war in the Niger Republic?

It is clear that behind the bravado of the Tinubu regime is the real fear that the military in Nigeria can also be tempted to repeat the same phenomenon and boot it out of power. Indeed, if this were to happen, millions of Nigerians would likely come onto the streets to celebrate as has happened in other coup-afflicted countries in the Sahel region. Bourgeois democracy in Nigeria is currently enjoying the best of the run, 24 years on. Tinubu, addressing ECOWAS leaders, states, “We must stand firm on democracy… it is the best form of government.” But he is alone on this point. The working masses will differ a great deal from his conclusion and acquiescence to the view stated by Fela in one of his songs that it is more of a “demonstration of craze.”

It is this craziness that has dominated the Tinubu regime with his rabid madness to impose the same failed neoliberal policies of deregulation and privatisation on the working masses. On day one in power, fuel prices increased from N165 to N520 and less than a month after N617. Policy after policy by the Tinubu regime, from a loan scheme to students with conditions that students from working-class backgrounds can’t access. Yet with the scheme not yet even running, universities in the country are announcing a hike of about 150% in school fees.

We are therefore witnessing the domestic reign of policies moving over into the foreign sphere with the Tinubu regime desperate to prove himself a true faithful of international capital; what better means than championing the invasion of Niger to win himself into the heart of Western Imperialism and the same time turn out a good lackey of French imperialism.

This is one of the vital reasons why the working masses in Nigeria must be at the front run to oppose war and invasion of the Niger Republic, and as well canvass the same for other countries in the Sahel region and Africa at large. Indeed a war impacted the working masses in the Sahel region negatively, leaving the living condition worst off. For a region already bugged down by unending war with Islamic insurgency. The regular army with be further undermined and weakened and laying it open for some of these Islamic groups to even directly control the state as was done by the Taliban group in Afghanistan.

In opposing war, can we then provide any form of support for sanctions, which is the position those opposed to war are putting forward? The so-called “diplomatic approach”. Again the answer is no. On the orders of Tinubu, Nigeria, which provides electricity to the Niger Republic, has gone ahead to cut off the supply, and the borders closed. The working masses will be at the receiving end of sanctions like these. They are the ones who will again suffer and be made to pay for the failure of the identified “bad governance” and “insecurity”, from which they are already agonising when they are not the ones who carried the coup. The Tchiani junta has taken control of political power and will employ the same power generators even round the clock to provide electricity for themselves. Workers all over, therefore, must say no to such a manner of sanctions that worsen and add more pain to the working masses.

At the other end of the border in Nigeria, the seven states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina Zamafara, Jigawa, Yobe, and Bornu will also be negatively impacted by sanctions and not any less also by war, as well as the other countries of Libya, Algeria, Chad, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Mali. Sanctions will deeply affect the exchange of goods and services from all ends and worsen the food crisis and hunger in an area reviling from desert encroachment and Islamic insurgency.

Neither coup d’etat nor war is the solution to the crisis in the Sahel region. Only the working masses can come to their own rescue.

Workers coming forward to oppose war and sanction should not be interpreted to mean support for the new military adventurers who, with only the question of time, will clearly demonstrate that they are not any different from those they have taken over from both in terms of policy direction and calling and craving for the endorsement of the Western imperialism for their takeover of power or as we are already seeing a cry for Russia and China to take the place of French and Western imperialism as the case may be. Or even support for a return of those overthrown or even for regimes that will still come.

The working masses all over are the only ones capable of rescuing the situation. The working class is the only class that can take on capitalism and imperialism with all of the chance to defeat it, as was accomplished by the Russian workers and poor peasants in 1917 under the leadership of the Bolsheviks headed by Lenin and Trotsky.

The MSA calls on the trade unions, in Nigeria the NLC and TUC headed by Joe Ajaero and Festus Osifo must lead a campaign opposing the war and invasion of Niger Republic as well as any manner of sanctions that will impact negatively on the working masses in Niger. The necessity for solidarity with the working masses of Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea rising up in protest to oppose the domination of France over their economy must also be applauded and welcomed. Still, at the same time, it must be made quite clear that the Wagner Group of Russia, or even China is not an alternative; the quest for new partners shouldn’t be to replace French imperialism with new ones enhancing what others have called a new scramble and partition of Africa for China and Russia to edge themselves into Africa to exploit as well the wealth and resources of the continent that was till now mainly dominated by the US and Western imperialism.

The working class though a minority in most of Neocolonial Africa, but it remains the only class on account of the role it can play, not only in the struggle against the ruling class on the continent but as well as in the role it can play in developing the means of production and bringing about a transformation of any one country in Africa. Nigeria, with its mighty strength both in population and resources, can become a centre for revolutionary struggle, given the huge potential of the working masses and the experience the working class have garnered in providing leadership for the struggle against the neoliberal policies of deregulation and privatisation.

However, we cannot dismiss the uprising in all of the countries that have experienced successful coups in the Sahel region and the anti-French sentiment as insignificant. But the point must be made that this new wave of coups is not new, even to all of the countries in reference. The best examples from the earlier periods include Sankara’s Burkina Faso and Rawlings’ first coming in 1981, for all the latter earlier revolutionary rhetoric executed three rulers on a single day. He ended up handing over Ghana as a guinea pig for the experiment of neoliberal pills of the IMF and World Bank. Sankara fared even better and continues to be a model of a leader that young change seekers still look forward to. But he ended up in an unmarked grave, having been shot dead by Campoare, who then commenced to reverse all of the gains of his rule in Burkina Faso. The point here is that there can be no transforming society on behalf of the working masses or be made spectators in any struggle against capitalism and imperialism; the working class must lead the struggle.  

The task before the working masses, in the Sahel region, in Nigeria and indeed in the whole of Africa, is strongly come into the arena of struggle to make a revolution. A socialist revolution that will nationalise the commanding sectors of the economy under democratic control and management of the working masses would put in place a parliament of elected workers, poor peasants and rank and file members of the military and the police’s representatives that constitute workers’ government.

Aj. Dagga Tolar is the General Secretary of the Movement of Socialist Alternative.

Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard: Down With ECOWAS military intervention! End the occupation of West Africa by imperialist troops!

First published by Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard, Nigerian Section of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), on August 8.

1. The Nigerien junta has announced the closure of Niger’s airspace upon the expiration of ECOWAS’ ultimatum for Mohamed Bazoum to be reinstated as president and claimed that “forces of a foreign power are preparing an act of aggression against Niger and its people in coordination with ECOWAS and armed terrorist groups”. ECOWAS chairman, President Tinubu, faces increasing set backs for his largely unpopular plan to invade Niger. The Nigerian Senate has rejected his proposal to deploy Nigeria’s military in Niger after a forum of northern senators denounced any military action in Niger.¹ Now Algeria following Chad has joined the list of countries that rejects the invasion of Niger by ECOWAS. All these have caused ECOWAS to stall opting rather for a summit on Thursday but with threats to take “necessary action” to bring Bazoum back to power.

2. Nevertheless, there are still ample prospects for an invasion. In 2017, former Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari could not secure the approval of the Senate before he deployed the country’s military as part of a 7, 000 strong ECOWAS force to oust Yahaya Jammeh in Gambia after he refused to step down when he lost the December 2016 elections to Adama Barrow.² Add to this the backing of Western imperialism especially France which has categorically stated its readiness to openly aid the invasion.

3. Moreover, the Tinubu government, a fragile highly unpopular government, rocked by a sea of domestic crises is petrified by the possibility of a coup in the country. This has been its motivation to wage war against the Nigerien junta since the news of the deposition of Bazoum broke. The Senegalese government has in like manner pledged to support ECOWAS’ invasion of Niger in order to divert attention from the months-long uprising that have unsettled the regime.³ Macky Sall can also use the pretext of a major war in the region to impose martial law in his country brutally crushing the uprising and extending his stay in office.

4. At this point, it is clear that any military intervention by the ECOWAS in Niger will be the invasion of a semi-colonial country by an imperialist proxy. Hence, revolutionaries must prepare for the military defence of Niger and the defeat of ECOWAS. Socialists must join all efforts to undermine the military intervention of ECOWAS and join the popular campaign for the evacuation of French and US troops from Niger without giving any political approval to the coupists.

5. While the intervention of Russian imperialism and/or its auxiliaries the Wagner Group on the side of Niger is possible as the junta continues attempts to enlist the help of the Kremlin and since it is surrounded by other military regimes like in Mali and Burkina Faso that already harbour Wagner mercenaries. The Tchiani junta is not yet a puppet of Russian imperialism and Wagner mercenaries are yet to play any decisive role in the country. If this happens socialists will be forced to review their stance and call for the defeat of both ECOWAS forces and the Nigerien junta.

6. The RCIT has emphasized that the war in Niger is likely to have a dual character, that is, a just war of national defence against imperialist aggression at the site of inter-imperialist power play for global hegemony. To this revolutionaries must apply the dual tactic — the defence of Niger from ECOWAS and French imperialism while opposing the strengthening of the hegemony of either Eastern(Russia and China) or Western (US/France) imperialism in the region.

7. This tactic has already been the stance of the RCIT and other Marxist revolutionaries in the Ukraine where Russian imperialism has waged a colonial war against the Ukraine which receives material support from the White House. To give one more example, during the Nigerian Civil War of 1967-70 the Biafran side received tacit support from French and Portuguese imperialism but revolutionaries still stood by the secessionists because they never became proxies of the French nor the Portuguese. Again this is without giving any political support to the reactionary Zelensky government in Ukraine or the Tchiani junta in Niger.

8. As has been said, war in the region is a recipe for crisis and would push all the countries involved nearer the precipice of cataclysm. However Nigeria should be given special attention here since its dominance in the region puts it in a position to spear-head ECOWAS’ attack of Niger. From the on-going Presidential Elections Tribunal to the growing resistance of the masses against Tinubu’s anti-people economic attacks to the deepening massacres and secessionist unrest in different parts of the country, the stage seem to be set for the domino effect of coups through the Sahel to finally cascade into Nigeria.

9. The elite of northern Nigeria which is demographically contiguous with the population of Niger have rejected military intervention,⁴ a factor that can metamorphose into further crises for the Tinubu regime should he carry on with the invasion as the northern nationalities constitute the largest group in Nigeria’s military. Furthermore, there are millions of displaced Nigerians in Niger seeking refuge from terrorist groups who have ravaged the whole of Nigeria’s North. The spokesperson of Niger’s junta mentioned in his address ” armed terrorists” as part of the invading foreign force. While this could be a slight to blackmail ECOWAS and the Nigerian Armed Forces it is not totally void of truth since the Nigerian ruling class have for years maintained close affinity with Salafist militias who operate on either side of the border. In Sudan, the Arab militias massacring Dafurians are sometimes indistinguishable from the Rapid Support Forces. Where there is a general Tendency for insurgent groups to be strengthened in a war-torn region, whether this will be in tandem with advancing ECOWAS or Nigerian forces remains to be seen.

10. The war could be a kind of repetition of the Iraq-Iran war between 1980-88 where Iraq served as a proxy of Western imperialism to wage a reactionary war on the new Mullah regime after the overthrow of the Shah in the Iranian revolution of 1979. The aftermath for Saddam’s regime was disastrous such that he ventured into annexing Kuwait turning his Western allies against him in what was the beginning of the end of his regime. Tinubu’s frenzied rush into the fray may lead to the collapse of his regime or of the power of the APC in Nigeria. The outcome of the war for him maybe exactly what he is trying to forestall — a military takeover. A military takeover in Nigeria can lead to a civil war.

11. Tinubu is likely to use the war as a pretext to further attack democratic freedoms as his tenure has already seen one workers’ strike with more to follow (Resident doctors embark on a strike come Wednesday).⁵ Sall will most likely use the same schema in Senegal. Revolutionaries must monitor closely the situation in each country and the region as a whole and fight for the preservation of democratic freedoms. Socialists must identify the progressive, counterrevolutionary forces at every turn of this dynamic situation and formulate positions accordingly. For now the main task is to stop the invasion of Niger.

Defend Niger Republic! Down With the France Backed ECOWAS Invasion of Niger! Drive All Imperialist Troops Out of Niger and West Africa! Lift All Sanctions On Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso!

Against US/France and Against Russian Imperialism! For A Workers’ And Poor Peasant Government in Niger! For A West Africa Free from Imperialist Subjugation and Capitalist Exploitation!


[1] https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/614494-breaking-niger-coup-nigerian-senators-reject-tinubus-request-for-troops-deployment.html https://punchng.com/senators-in-stormy-session-reject-military-invasion-of-niger/

[2] https://dailypost.ng/2017/01/19/senate-blasts-buhari-sending-military-gambia-without-approval/

[3] https://www.africanews.com/2023/08/03/senegal-says-its-troops-will-join-any-ecowas-intervention-in-niger/ https://guardian.ng/news/senegal-says-its-troops-will-join-any-ecowas-intervention-in-niger/

[4] https://dailypost.ng/2023/08/05/military-action-in-niger-will-lead-to-mass-killings-cng-warns/ https://www.arise.tv/nigerias-northern-senators-reject-military-intervention-in-niger/

[5] https://newsexpressngr.com/api/news_detail.php?id=199347&title=resident-doctors-to-embark-on-nationwide-protest-wednesday

Socialist Workers League: Statement on the coup in Niger & ECOWAS’ reaction

First published at Socialist Workers League on August 7.

Socialist Workers League is deeply concerned about the ongoing situation in the Republic of Niger. We are unwavering in our commitment to peace and the rights of working people in Niger to their self-determination. But we must clearly state that the people of Niger must achieve their own liberation from oppression and imperialism by themselves. No section of the ruling class, be these military or civilian, can do this for them.

Further, considering the history of General Abdourahaname Tchiani as a long-standing head of the presidential guard in Niger, we see little qualitative difference between him and President Mohammed Bazoum whom he deposed on 26 July 2023.

It is also noteworthy that this will be the fourth elected government overthrown by soldiers in Africa within the last three years, making Niger the sixth nation in Sub-Saharan Africa currently under a military junta. With the history of military rule on the continent, we see no good coming out of this wave of coup d’états. Thus, without prejudice to the interwoven contradictions in the unfolding situation, SWL condemns the coup in Niger.

SWL notes the intervention being taken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), currently being led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Nigeria, whose emergence as the president of Nigeria remains illegitimate. These include sanctions, cutting off electricity supply to Niger, and a threat of the use of force, which could spark a regional war as the governments of Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali have vowed to support Niger in the event of attacks by ECOWAS forces.

These measures will exacerbate the hardships faced by the Nigerien population, which is already mired in a state of pauperisation due to the corrupt enrichment of the country’s wealth by its ruling class and the country’s exploitation by imperialist forces, particularly France its former coloniser, and the United States. The measures will also not address the root causes of the Bazoum government’s failure, which paved the way for the military takeover. 

There is a fundamental error in the assumption that the military coup is the root cause of the failure of democracy in the country. The reality is that it is the other way around: the civilian government’s failure paved the way for the military takeover. The civilian government failed to live up to its promises of democratising the polity, addressing the state of insecurity and improving the economic situation of poor Nigeriens. This is what led to the dissatisfaction and reflected in popular support for the coup. Economic sanctions or military interventions may not impact the coup leaders significantly. But they will harm the poor working people in Niger. 

The intervention by Tinubu/ECOWAS, unfortunately, is not in defence of democracy. It is more aligned with defending the interests of France/Western imperialist powers. The Tinubu-led government in Nigeria has already demonstrated its slavish uptake of the neoliberal agenda of Western imperialism with a series of anti-poor people policies inspired by the international monetary fund (IMF), such as sharp hikes in fuel pump prices and devaluation of the naira. These policies have subjected working people in Nigeria to unprecedented hardships over the two months he has thus far spent in office. A government that works for a few while millions of its country’s citizens are condemned to excruciating poverty and hardships cannot be said to be democratic. 

The imperialist role of France in its ex-colonies in Africa cannot be overemphasised. It has held these neocolonial states in an exploitative grip, extracting their natural resources and constraining their fiscal policy space in the most rabid manner. We thus welcome the coupists breaking of colonial accords with France. However, considering the fact that key players in the junta have been in governments that upheld these accords for decades, it is legitimate to see this step in the right direction as a populist effort at building a mass base of support, rather than part of a sustained anti-imperialist agenda.

The coup leaders, just like the ousted government, are representative members of the ruling class of exploiters and oppressors in Niger. The true power to ensure social progress and radical democracy from below lies primarily in the hands of the working-class people of Niger. It is too early in the day to determine how the unfolding situation in Niger will play out. But it is crucial that this process is driven by the people of Niger, not by foreign powers like France or Russia.

SWL urges the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to condemn any attempt at war in Niger and work with workers’ organisations in Niger and across the region to fight for a democracy that prioritises the working-class people above any imperialist and capitalist interest.

Our goal remains steadfast: a workers-led, democratic Niger, where the way forward is determined by the working people’s power, by the working people themselves. The path to this is through organising and fighting by the workers and youth of Niger for revolutionary democracy and socialism from below and not any putschist politics or imperialist interference.

Frances AKINJOLE (National Chairperson) and Mobolaji OTUYELU (National Secretary) for the SWL Central Committee

Socialist Labour (Nigeria): Niger needs a mass struggle against inequality, not a coup 

First published at Socialist Labour on August 1.

As in Nigeria, the mass of the population in Niger suffer horrendous poverty. The military coup will not help these people. It is also likely to see more repression against the much-needed mass movement against poverty and the other anti-people policies. However, an invasion by Nigeria would only make matters so much worse.

Many people will celebrate the coup in Niger against one of the most pro-western governments in West Africa. The removal of French soldiers and their possible replacement with mercenaries from the Russian Wagner group will be interpreted as a victory. But this will not help most Nigeriens. They need a mass movement against poverty and inequality. This is the only way to fundamentally address the problems of inequality, corruption and insecurity.

Half the population of Niger exist below the national poverty line. One and five of the population cannot reliably meet their food needs. Fighting between the corrupt political elite and the military will not fundamentally change the situation.

Niger is Africa’s most important uranium ore exporter (75 percent of the country’s total exports) and the fourth largest exporter in the world. Other exports include: gold, onions, beans and meat. Niger’s main export partners are France (55 percent of total exports), United States, Switzerland, Nigeria and Ghana. Around a third of the uranium for the extensive French nuclear reactors comes from Niger.

So again, like Nigeria, Niger is largely dependent on the exports of a single natural resource. Most of the uranium mines are controlled by Orano (previously named Areva) the French state-owned nuclear power company. The people of Niger suffer environmental devastation comparable to the Niger Delta. “The air, water and land are polluted around the mining towns”, reports a journalist based in the Nigerien capital of Niamey. “And the animals of the pastoralists are constantly falling sick due to their grazing pastures being contaminated with radioactive dust”, he adds.

Studies prove that the concentration of radiation around the uranium mines is almost 500 times higher than normal background levels. Even spending one hour per day over one year at this location can expose a person to 10 times the annual radiation dose.

The Union of Workers’ Trade Unions of Niger (USTN) is the largest of the three main trade union centres with a membership of 60,000. On 25 June 2009, the second largest trade union confederation led a 24-hour general strike across the nation to protest the President’s referendum plans, after a previous strike had been indefinitely postponed on 18 June. All seven trade union confederations took part, in the first general strike since the creation of the Fifth Republic in 1999, and the first joint action by all seven major confederations.

Niger, like all countries, is situated within a global economy and suffers interference from the major imperialist powers, in this case, mainly France. The French Government controls the major export from Niger (uranium) and also the currency. This and the French army base in Niger means that there is significant anti-French feeling in Niger. Four days after the coup there was a demonstration involving thousands of people against the French embassy.

The working people of Niger do not need a military coup to further constrain their ability to organise. They do not need the current military ‘support’ provided by Western governments. Equally they do not need interference from the Russian Wagner group or a possible ECOWAS invasion led by Nigeria. As in Nigeria, we need a mass campaign to increase wages of the working people and increase government spending on health and education.

Revolutionary Communist International Tendency: ECOWAS, France and US — Hands Off Niger!

First published by Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) and Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard (Nigeria) on August 1.

Defend Niger against sanctions and military intervention! No political support for the junta of General Tiani! Expel all US/European troops from Niger!

1. The pro-Western alliance ECOWAS as well as the European Union and the U.S. have imposed sanctions against Niger and threaten with military intervention if the new junta does not reinstate the deposed President Mohamed Bazoum within a week. When thousands of demonstrators marched to the French embassy and denounced any military intervention by the old colonial master, President Macron warned that he "will not tolerate any attack against France and its interests". Paris also threatened: "Should anyone attack French nationals, the army, diplomats and French interests, they will see France respond in an immediate and intractable manner." In preparation for such a military intervention, Paris has announced today that it will evacuate its nationals from Niger “very soon.”

2. The background for this escalation is the coup in Niger on 26 July where the Presidential Guard, supported by the army, ousted President Bazoum and declared General Abdourahamane Tiani as the new leader. Bazoum and his party (“Parti nigérien pour la démocratie et le socialisme”) – which ruled the country since 2011 – had become highly unpopular because of its corruption, its failure to reduce poverty, its brutal oppression of protests and of oppositional forces (e.g. the arrest of Abdoulaye Seydou, the leader of the new social movement M62) as well as because of its subservient role as a lackey of French and U.S. imperialism.

3. Niger was a French colony until 1960 when it became a capitalist semi-colony dominated by France and other Western powers. It is one of the poorest countries in the world. However, it has also some of the world's largest uranium deposit – as well as other raw materials – which are controlled by French corporations. European leaders are highly interested to keep Niger under their control since France and other EU states get 15-30% of their uranium imports – essential for Europe’s nuclear energy industry – from that country. Furthermore, Niger is the last country in Northern and Central Africa where a sizeable number of Western troops (1,500 French and about 1,000 U.S. soldiers) is stationed – under the pretext of the imperialist “War on Terror”. Furthermore, the U.S. military runs a gigantic drone base in the northern region of Agadez from where it launches its bloody killing operations in the Sahel region. In short, “loosing” Niger would be a strategic setback for EU and U.S. imperialism since they already lost control over Mali and Burkina Faso in the last three years.

4. For all these reasons, France, the EU and the U.S. are determined to keep Niger under control. For such purpose, they want to force the new rulers to reinstate their puppet Bazoum or to find an agreement with General Tiani to continue the pro-Western policy of his predecessor. If these plans are not successful within the next days, the Western imperialists plan to military intervene with the help of their foot soldiers of the Nigeria-dominated ECOWAS alliance.

5. However, the aggression of ECOWAS, EU and U.S. face important obstacles. First, there exists strong popular resentment in Niger against France and its allies. Any military intervention by these foreign powers would provoke determined resistance not only by the new junta but also by the popular masses. Second, several countries in the region – which are formally also members of the ECOWAS alliance – have already denounced the sanctions and military threats against Niger. Guinea expressed its "disagreement with the sanctions recommended by ECOWAS, including military intervention". And the governments of Burkina Faso and Mali said in a joint statement that they "refuse to apply" the "illegal, illegitimate and inhumane sanctions against the people and authorities of Niger". They warned about the "disastrous consequences of a military intervention in Niger [which] could destabilise the entire region". They even threatened: "Any military intervention against Niger would be tantamount to a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali." In other words, a military intervention by pro-Western troops could result in a war not only with Niger but also with Burkina Faso and Mali.

6. Western leaders claim that their pressure against the new junta in Niger is motivated by its concern for “democracy”. Nothing could be further from truth! Just a few weeks ago, EU leaders signed off on a €1bn “anti-migration” deal with Tunisia – an authoritarian country ruled by Kais Saied who took power via a coup in July 2021. Another key ally of the EU and the U.S. is General Sisi in Egypt who took power via a military coup on 3 July 2013. In the following weeks he brutally crushed mass protests – most famously the horrible Rabaa massacre on 14 August when the army killed 2,600 demonstrators on a single day! To this we could add other “strategic allies” of Western powers like the absolutist monarchies in the Gulf states. Furthermore, everyone in Africa is well aware of the numerous intrigues and coups organised by the Elysee in Paris! No, the only reason why EU and U.S. leaders oppose the new junta in Niger is that they fear to lose control of that country.

7. Likewise, the Tinubu government in Nigeria has no interest in democracy or the acclaimed "constitutional order". It is a weak and unpopular government which fears for its own existence. First, the presidential tribunal where opposition parties challenge the results of the February elections is under pressure to order a re-run. Moreso, before his swearing on May 29 there were already calls for an interim government which ranged then from a caretaker government to an outright military coup. Now with the coup in Niger the likelihood of military coups especially in the West Africa region has increased. While the current conditions do not exactly give room for a coup in the near future it is clear that without the support of major brokers in other ruling class factions, the Tinubu regime is vulnerable. Finally, Tinubu has unleashed a deluge of pitiless austerity measures and reckless laissez-faire policies against the masses to which the labour unions are set to embark on a 7-day general strike on August 2. It is easy to see why the Tinubu administration views the coup in Niger as existential threat to its government.

8. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) and the Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard (Nigerian Section of the RCIT) denounce the sanctions and military threats by ECOWAS, EU and U.S. imperialism! We call for an immediate end of sanctions. In case of a military intervention by ECOWAS troops (which will be directly or indirectly supported by Western powers), we call for the military defence of Niger and for the defeat of the pro-imperialist invaders. Likewise, socialists demand the expulsion of US/European troops from Niger.

9. A military aggression of ECOWAS against Niger would represent an imperialist attack against a poor semi-colonial country. True, the member states of ECOWAS are not imperialist but rather capitalist semi-colonies (including its dominant state, Nigeria). However, in such an attack, ECOWAS would operate as a proxy of European and U.S. imperialism – similar to the African states in the France-dominated G5 Sahel alliance or the pro-U.S. AMISOM/ATMIS troops in Somalia. Hence, in such a situation, Niger’s resistance against ECOWAS troops would have the character of an anti-imperialist struggle of a semi-colonial country against a pro-imperialist alliance. One might object that Niger would be a puppet of Russian imperialism. However, while such a scenario can not be excluded in the future, this is presently not the case. Currently, Russia plays no relevant role in Niger – neither economically, politically nor military.

10. Our defence of Niger against foreign aggression must not be confused with any political support for the new junta. As the Nigerian comrades of the RCIT said in their statement from 28 July: “Socialists oppose the coup; it is a fight between two equally reactionary wings of the Nigerien ruling class. It is an extension of the bonapartist shift of the ruling class following similar coups in Mali, Sudan, and Burkina Faso. While we oppose all forms of dictatorial governments, we give no support to the Bazoum government. Hence, we call socialists revolutionaries, progressives and activists to defend freedom of expression including protests and demonstrations.”

11. We are aware that many brothers and sisters in Pan-Africanist circles are hopeful about the new junta in Niger. They sympathise with the regimes in Burkina Faso and Mali and consider Russia – whose Wagner mercenaries have replaced French troops – as a “progressive” force. We think that these comrades are deeply wrong! A foreign policy orientation towards Russia – instead of France (resp. other Western powers) – would not provide a way forward for the Nigerien people. This would only replace one Great Power with another – but the system of imperialist oppression and super-exploitation would continue. Think about Russia’s role as a brutal occupation power in Chechnya, Syria or the Ukraine. Think about its close relations with the arch-reactionary putschists in Sudan or with General Haftar in Libya. Hence, the RCIT calls for the expulsion not only of Western troops but also of all Wagner mercenaries from Africa!

12. Authentic socialists have to oppose all imperialist Great Powers in East and West (U.S., China, Western Europe, Russia and Japan). Likewise, the way forward is not to replace one capitalist authoritarian regime with another. The workers and poor peasants in Niger need to organise themselves in councils of actions and popular militias. Such organs of the masses should constitute the basis for workers and poor peasant government which moves forward to expropriate the foreign corporations and to distribute the land to those who work on it. This could lay the foundation for the course of total decolonization, i.e. a truly free Niger independent of imperialist domination by any Great Power. As our Nigerian comrades stated, “we call for a free socialist Niger as part of a voluntary Confederation of West African Socialist Republics.”

13. In case of a pro-imperialist military intervention against Niger, the RCIT and its Nigerian section call for the creation of action committees to organise protests. We call authentic socialists who agree with such an anti-imperialist program to join forces and to build a revolutionary party – nationally and internationally.

Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard: Niger President Bazoum is Ousted in a Coup

First published by Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard, Nigerian Section of the RCIT on July 28.

The Nigerien president, Mohamed Bazoum, has been deposed through a coup staged by the presidential guard. The 2000 strong presidential guard detained Bazoum on Wednesday and announced on state television that they were taking over the government. The Nigerien Armed Forces despite initially threatening to launch a counter-offensive against the presidential guard to reinstate the president has come out in support of the putchists. These developments have drawn condemnation from Western governments like the US and France as well as international organisations and regional blocs like the UN and ECOWAS. With the coup in Niger been the 6th in a row for the past 3 years in the Sahelian Belt the capitalist crises might have plunged the region into a more protracted “coup season”.

Irrespective of the “security concerns” of the coup plotters the coup has every probability of further destabilising an already volatile region which is swarming with extremist armed groups linked to Daesh and Al Qaeda especially Boko Haram, ISWAP and Fulani militias known as Bandits in Nigeria which shares a northern border with Niger. Moreso, the extent of unrest that will be elicited by the coup remains to be seen as there are already anti- and pro-coup demonstrations in Niamey.

Niger is one of the most underdeveloped semi-colonial countries in the world. It’s large deposits of uranium and other mineral resources have been exploited by the imperialist West for decades. It lies at the bottom of the UN’s Human Development Index and has been a recipient of the UN’s humanitarian aid for years. As has been mentioned the country is plagued with attacks from armed extremist groups and national conflicts with countless lives lost and thousands displaced. Its borders are flashpoints for the cross national operations of this extremist groups against each other and security forces of the border countries. All these is more and more compounded by a deepening capitalist crises which has heightened food inflation and worsened environmental conditions. Now with the advent of the coup the UN has suspended it supply of aid to Niger.

The coup is a blow against US imperialism which has long maintained its grip over successive Nigerien governments. Its gigantic drone base in the northern region of Agadez is used as a satellite to launch the “War On Terror” campaign in North and Central Africa. It is another step in the general decline of European imperialist influence in the region as France which has recently moved troops to Niger after they were expelled from Mali and Burkina Faso may be threatened yet again to remove its troops from the region, this time permanently.

In contrast, the rapprochement of military juntas in the region from Mali to Burkina Faso and now Niger with Russia is set to improve. Yevgeny Prigozine, the leader of the notorious Russian backed Wagner Group, has called for “a new journey to Africa” just days before the coup.¹ While no links can be traced to his statement and the coup, the influence of Russia in the region remains a decisive factor in the political turns in the region.

Socialists oppose the coup, it is a fight between two equally reactionary wings of the Nigerien ruling class. It is an extension of the bonapartist shift of the ruling class following similar coups in Mali, Sudan, and Burkina Faso. While we oppose all forms of dictatorial governments we give no support to the Bazoum government. Hence, we call socialists revolutionaries, progressives and activists to defend freedom of expression including protests and demonstrations. We call for the expulsion of US/European troops from Niger and an end to the weaponisation of UN humanitarian aid as tool of cohesion in semi-colonial countries.

At the same time we denounce the growing influence of the Eastern imperialists — Russia and China, in Africa. We stand against any admission of the Wagner Group into Niger. For international food and medical aid to Niger. No to Western sanctions against Niger. All imperialists whether from the East or West are robbers and thieves, they must all be expelled from the region. Armed extremist violence in Africa is the aftermath of colonial subjugation and imperialist exploitation. Thus we call for a free socialist Niger as part of a voluntary Confederation of West African Socialist Republics. This free socialist Niger must have a Workers and Poor Peasant government that will lay the foundation for the course of total decolonisation.


[1] Russia’s Wagner boss appears to hail Niger coup, tout services https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/7/28/russias-wagner-boss-appears-to-hail-niger-coup-tout-services