In a fresh development, Algeria has taken the initiative to mediate a return to civilian control in Niger, and the military junta in Niger has accepted the offer. Algeria’s proposal, put forward in late August, outlines a six-month transition plan that would be overseen by a civilian authority.
Algeria’s role as a mediator is bolstered by several factors. The country maintains good relations with the United States while expressing opposition to French intervention in Africa, a stance shared by the Nigerien junta. Algiers has also condemned the coup and provided support to ousted President Mohamed Bazoum. Importantly, Algeria firmly opposes any military intervention against its southern neighbor.
Pressure is mounting on countries to the south and west of Niger to take action against this coup, which is the latest in a series of similar events in the region. Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who also leads the political bloc of West African states known as ECOWAS, has activated a response force and issued a warning of potential military action against Niger as a last resort.
However, ECOWAS has shown hesitancy in taking immediate action, partly due to the complexities and potential entanglements that intervention in Niger may entail. The involvement of countries like Mali and Burkina Faso, which have pledged support to the junta, could further complicate the situation. Nevertheless, if Algeria is able to make progress through its mediation efforts, it would provide President Tinubu with a compelling argument against resorting to the measure of last resort.
While Algeria presents this mediation as a pathway to a peaceful resolution, some experts remain skeptical. Amaka Anku, the head of Eurasia Group’s Africa practice, notes that Niger’s previous statements about being open to negotiations with ECOWAS have yielded limited results. Diplomatic missions by both ECOWAS and US officials have made little headway in restoring civilian control in Niger. Consequently, the success of Algeria’s mediation efforts is uncertain.
Despite the challenges ahead, the involvement of Algeria as a mediator brings a new dimension to the ongoing discussions about Niger’s transition to civilian rule. The outcome of these efforts will play a crucial role in determining the future stability and governance of the country.