Niger’s junta revoked two important military accords inked with the European Union to combat unrest in Africa’s Sahel area on Monday, as the country’s army officials and a top Russian defence official discussed military cooperation.
Niger’s foreign affairs ministry stated in a document that the government has opted to “withdraw the privileges and immunities granted” under the EU Military collaboration Mission in Niger, which was started in February, and so “has no legal obligation” relating to that collaboration.
Prior to the revolution that toppled President Mohamed Bazoum, Niger was the West and Europe’s last major security partner in the Sahel, the enormous territory south of the Sahara Desert that Islamic extremist organisations have converted into a worldwide terror hotspot.
It also rejected the EU Civilian Capacity-Building Mission, which was launched in 2012 to bolster Niger’s internal security sector, thus withdrawing its permission for the missions.
The latest in a series of rising political tensions between Niger and the EU since the July coup.
“At the centre of the discussions is the strengthening of cooperation between the two countries in the field of defense,” Niger’s defense ministry said in a statement.
The majority of Niger’s foreign economic and security backers, notably France, which has 1,500 soldiers stationed in Niger, have sanctioned the nation. They have all been asked to leave.
According to analysts, while regional and international sanctions aimed at forcing the junta to reverse its coup have put pressure on the country, they have also strengthened the military administration as it consolidates its control and seeks new alliances.