At first, Niger’s coup, which began last week, resembled others that have roiled West Africa in recent years, soldiers detained the president and declared they had seized power; foreign powers were condemnatory but did nothing. But in recent days, things have taken a different course.
The U.S. and France threatened to cut ties with Niger, endangering hundreds of millions of dollars in aid. The deposed and detained president, Mohamed Bazoum, spoke with world leaders, received visitors and posted defiant messages on social media. And neighboring countries threatened to go to war — some to scuttle the coup, others to ensure its success.
Although Niger has a long history of coups, Bazoum promised a democratic future. Elected in Niger’s first peaceful transfer of power in 2021, he advocated girls’ education and tried to reduce the country’s birthrate, the highest in the world. After years of stagnation, the economy had been forecast to grow 7 percent this year.