Spain Evacuates 70 Nationals from Niger

Leader Of Military Coup Proclaimed Leader Of Niger

New leader of Niger, Abdourahamane Tchiani. Credit: The New York Times/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

Spain prepares for the evacuation of more than 70 Spaniards from Niger after President Mohamed Bazoum has been overthrown in a coup on July 26.

Niger Airspace Closed

ON Tuesday, August 1, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain is finalising details to evacuate Spaniards after all commercial flights were cancelled, and Niger airspace was closed. Minister José Manuel Albares urged all Spaniards in the country to contact the embassy to organize their departure on Monday, July 31.

Other European countries are also swiftly organising evacuations of their nationals, France evacuated its citizens and any other European nationals who sought to leave the country on Tuesday, August 1, and Italy is chartering a special flight.

The French Government estimates that there are around 500 to 600 French civilians in Niger.

President Overthrown

The coup d’état on July 26 has destabilised the country. The military junta, calling itself the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Homeland (CLSP), announced the president had been overthrown and that institutions were suspended, borders and airspace were to be closed and imposed a night curfew. The incident sent shockwaves across West Africa and beyond its borders.

The European Union, particularly France, and the US see Niger as crucial in the battle against insurgent uprisings and curbing the passage of illegal migrants to Europe.

International organisations such as the African Union, United Nations and European Union have all condemned the coup, which is the seventh military takeover in West and Central Africa in the past three years. The regional bloc ECOWAS has responded with sanctions on financial transactions and a freeze on national assets.

Why Did The Coup Happen?

On July 28, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, the leader of the country’s presidential guard, declared himself head of state. This is not the first time that Niger has experienced a coup, when Bazoum won the election to become President, a failed coup was attempted not 48 hours before he was inaugurated into government. Bazoum was targeted because he belongs to the ethnic Arab minority in the country, which is predominantly made up of larger ethnic groups, and opponents raised doubts about his legitimacy as president.

Factors that have been cited for the coup include a lack of economic growth that contributed to a fragile system. Niger has also been subjected to many insurgent attacks, despite an increase in US and French military presence, which were allocated to help in the fight against insurgency in the region.

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Written by

Lisa Zeffertt

Lisa is British, born in Hong Kong and has lived in many countries including the UK, Hong Kong, Cyprus, and Thailand, Spain has been her home for the past 10 years. After graduating with a BA in English Literature and Art History, she has worked in different sectors, most recently as a ghostwriter and translator for six years Writing is one of her passions, as well as working in both Spanish (fluent) and English.