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West Africa: Mali, Russia Discuss Coup in Niger

Harare — Colonel Assimi Goita, the head of Mali’s military, spoke by phone with Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, about the situation in Niger, where Mohamed Bazoum was deposed on July 26 by a coup.

Putin “stressed the importance of a peaceful resolution of the situation for a more stable Sahel”, Goita wrote on Twitter.

The call was initiated by Mali, according to a statement from the Kremlin.

“The parties specifically focused on the current situation in the Sahara-Sahel region and emphasised, in particular, the importance of settling the situation in the Republic of Niger solely through peaceful political and diplomatic means,” it said.

Due to its uranium and oil resources and its function as a base for foreign forces engaged in the conflict with armed groups in the area, Niger is strategically significant for the United States, China, Europe, and Russia.

Western governments are likely to be alarmed by the call since they are concerned about expanding Russian influence in the Sahel.

Since Bazoum was overthrown, democratic African governments have demanded that he be put back in office, however, the coup leaders are rejecting all attempts at negotiations.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the primary regional organization, threatened to undertake a military intervention if diplomacy fails. West African army chiefs will gather in Ghana to prepare for this possibility on Thursday and Friday this week.

Military action might further destabilize the impoverished Sahel, where conflicts fought by al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) affiliates have driven millions of people from their homes over the past ten years and exacerbated a famine crisis.

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