The European Union has killed its official military cooperation with Niger following a successful coup d'etat in the country last year. (EPA-EFE/ISSIFOU DJIBO)


EU terminates military co-operation with post-coup Niger


The European Union has ended its official military co-operation with Niger following a successful coup in the North African country last year.

Having spent almost a year denying the military takeover in the country had been successful, the Council of the EU announced on May 28 it was ending the bloc’s military partnership mission in Niger (EUMPM) over what it termed the “grave current political situation in the country”.

“The mission was established in December 2022 at the request of the former Nigerien authorities to enhance the ability of the Niger Armed Forces to contain the terrorist threat, protect the population in the country and ensure a safe and secure environment in compliance with human rights law and international humanitarian law,” the Brussels body said.

While the EU stated it had initially agreed the mission would last three years, it said Niger’s new Government had expressed dissatisfaction with the project, with the soldiers responsible for running the mission having been kicked out of the country late last year.

“By letter dated 21 December 2023, the Mission Commander, Lieutenant-General Michiel van der Laan, notified the Council that the EU personnel of EUMPM Niger had been redeployed to Europe,” the Council of the EU said.

The mission is now set to be officially terminated on June 30.

Brussels’ exit from Niger follows months of unsuccessful attempts by the West and its allies to unseat the military junta in the country, which overthrew the nation’s civilian government in July last year.

The revolution prompted immediate threats of invasion from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) — an organisation Niger has since formally left. Western allies such as France — the country’s former colonial master — as well as the US hinted that they may be interested in backing the venture.

Such threats amounted to nothing, with the Niger regime proceeding to kick out French troops stationed in the country late last year.

The move was followed by an announcement that more than 1,000 American troops would also be evicted from Niger by the end of September, with the junta declaring their presence in the country as being “illegal”.

Against that, a large number of Russian military instructors are said to have been invited into the country to train the new government’s troops. The shift is being seen as a major sign of declining Western influence in the Sahel region.

It is unclear what efforts France and the US may be making to remedy the situation, with both nations appearing to have largely abandoned the country’s former president Mohamed Bazoum, who remains under house arrest.

Previously seen as one of the West’s most important allies in the Sahel, the former leader is said to be confined to a single wing of the country’s presidential residence, without any access to the outside world.

The military Government is examining ways to lift his presidential immunity over alleged corruption and accusations of treason.