The African Union (AU) has taken a decisive step by suspending Niger from its membership activities, sending a strong message of condemnation following the coup d’état that unfolded on July 26th. The AU’s Peace and Security Council held a meeting on August 14th, where it made the call to suspend Niger’s participation in all AU activities and institutions until constitutional order is fully restored in the country.
The recent military coup, which saw President Mohamed Bazoum ousted from power, has drawn widespread international concern. The AU’s suspension reflects not only its condemnation of the coup but also its commitment to upholding democracy, peace, and stability across the African continent.
This move comes in the wake of tensions surrounding a potential military intervention to restore President Bazoum’s government. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had proposed deploying a standby force to Niger with the aim of restoring constitutional order.
However, divisions emerged within the AU regarding the possible deployment of military intervention, leading to the AU’s decision to study the potential impacts before endorsing the proposal.
“We are studying the ECOWAS decision to prepare forces for deployment in Niger, and the African Commission will evaluate its repercussions,” said the AU in an official statement following deliberations held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The AU Peace and Security Council’s preference for a diplomatic resolution is evident. It expressed its support for ECOWAS’ diplomatic efforts in seeking the peaceful restoration of constitutional order.
The Council emphasised that the economic, social, and security implications of a military intervention must be carefully considered before any action is taken.
The suspension of Niger from AU activities demonstrates the continental body’s commitment to principles of democracy and constitutional order. It also aligns with the AU’s long-standing tradition of responding to coups by suspending the involved member state.
The AU’s Peace and Security Council has called on all AU member states and the international community to avoid actions that would legitimise Niger’s military junta urging all stakeholders to support the sanctions against Niger’s rogue government.
In the midst of these developments, concerns have arisen over potential external actors becoming involved. Reports indicate that a Russian private military group, Wagner, had reached out to the junta in Niger. The AU’s statement firmly rejects any external interference, including engagement by private military companies, and highlights the importance of preserving the sovereignty of African nations.
“We strongly reject any external interference by any party or country in the affairs of the continent, including private military companies.” read the AU’s official statement in part.
As the situation unfolds, the AU is collaborating with ECOWAS to compile a list of individuals involved in the coup, including military and civilian supporters, for targeted sanctions in a bid to hold them accountable for violating the country’s constitutional order.
Western countries have expressed their support for diplomatic efforts to restore constitutional order, while advocating for a peaceful resolution to the crisis. The coup’s potential implications to regional stability, such as the Trans-Saharan gas pipeline project linking Nigeria and Algeria, have also raised concerns.
Niger’s coup is the latest in a series of coups that have affected West African nations since 2020. The instability caused by these political upheavals has heightened worries about the region’s security, particularly in the face of growing insurgencies by jihadist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.