As West African military chiefs are currently meeting in Accra, Ghana to decide whether to launch military operation to uproot the junta in Niamey, the situation in Niger is becoming edgy and chaotic. A militant attack took place near the Malian border, killing 17 troops further heightening fear tension across the country regarding the growing spate of violence and criminality perpetrated by insurgents in the Sahel.
Within this engulfing situation, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday called the junta leader of Mali and said that Russia wants a peaceful solution to the crisis in Niger as news filtered in from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that the African Union has rejected any form of military intervention in Niger. Reports said that the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union came out unequivocally against the deployment of armed foreign troops to Niger, to free ousted President Mohamed Bazoum and restore constitutional order.
The French outlet Le Monde reported on Wednesday that the decision comes after the PSC met in the Ethiopian capital on Monday, to discuss the situation in Niamey and efforts to address it.
The decision was reached after a “tense” meeting that lasted “more than ten hours,” according to reports.
Observers believe that ECOWAS will find it difficult to launch a military offensive in Niamey without the approval of the African Union, such an operation would be an unprecedented contradiction.
Now that the PSC, which is the body responsible for deciding on issues of conflict resolution in Africa, has decided to disassociate itself from the use of force in Niamey, how will ECOWAS leaders respond to this development? It will very much depend on the disposition of their masters in Washington Paris and London.
Intriguingly, the coup leaders declared on Sunday that they would prosecute ousted president Mohammed Bazoum as well as “his local and foreign accomplices” for “high treason and undermining the internal and external security of Niger.”
The Niger’s military government said it has enough evidence to suggest that Bazoum has been engaging with foreign governments and international organizations to destabilize Niger and Nigeria. I hope President Bola Tinubu is listening.
ECOWAS leaders condemned the move to prosecute Bazoum, calling it another form of provocation, while the Western powers were livid and outraged by the junta’s declaration, saying the move will worsen the situation.
“We are incredibly dismayed by reports that President Bazoum’s unjust detention has gone even a step further,” US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.
“This action is completely unwarranted and unjustified and, candidly, it will not contribute to a peaceful resolution of this crisis,”
UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Monday that an attempt by Niger’s junta to bring charges of high treason against Bazoum is “very worrying.”
The allegations against Bazoum, as weighty as they seem, should provoke our collective conscience to interrogate their veracity in accordance with the rule of law. Is Bazoum guilty as charged? The Western powers and ECOWAS leaders should not hold brief for the toppled president and his accomplice. We need to get to the bottom of these allegations. The dirt should not be buried under the carpet.
Away from Niger to down south, to Johannesburg, South Africa, venue of the much-anticipated BRICS Summit holding from August 22 to August 24.
Next week’s BRIC’s Leaders Summit will potentially be the most significant development in international finance since 1971 when the United States went off the gold standard.
The event will involve the rollout of a major new currency (or mode of exchange) that could weaken the role of the dollar in global payments and ultimately displace it as the leading payment currency and reserve currency. This tectonic shift which is expected to affect world trade, direct foreign investment and investor portfolios in dramatic and unforeseen ways, will cause a profound and unprecedented geopolitical shockwave across the globe.
Host South Africa, a key member of the bloc that also has Brazil, Russia, India and China, confirmed recently that 23 countries want to join the BRICS group. The countries interested in joining the group include believe it or not Nigeria, Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
Founded in 2009, the high level of interest confirms BRICS status as a leading alliance, platform that defends the interests of the countries of the global South.
Also among the key issues for the BRICS group of nations to discuss at the summit is establishing sustainable payments mechanisms for mutual trade. But it has been observed that the use of national currencies in mutual trade is complicated by factors such as their limited convertibility and higher volatility compared to the US dollar. And it has equally been acknowledged that though the creation of a new BRICS single currency would be a “delicate” process, it’s the most feasible step given the current circumstance.
The BRICS nations have been seeking to shift further from the US dollar in mutual trade, with the de-dollarization trend gaining momentum following sanctions that effectively cut Russia off from Western financial mechanisms. Numerous developing nations – including Russia’s fellow BRICS members China, India, Brazil and South Africa – have started to move toward alternative currencies in trade.
Russia floated the idea of introducing a BRICS currency last year. President Vladimir Putin said last June that member states were working on developing a new reserve currency based on a basket of the national currencies used by the five-nation bloc.
Indicatively, the BRICS nations combined economic might is already greater than that of the Group of Seven Western industrial economies. The most important development of the BRICS system is the expected admission of economic heavyweights like Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia – the latter a keystone of the petrodollar system ensuring the stability of the dollar’s world reserve status. There’s more to this list than just increasing the headcount. If Saudi Arabia and Russia are both members, you have two of the three largest energy producers under one tent (the US is the other member of the energy Big Three).
Furthermore, the current BRICS countries account for 30 percent of the world’s surface area and related natural resources, 50 percent of global wheat and rice production, and 15 percent of the planet’s gold reserves. BRICS also account for 40 percent of the world’s population, and, pending Saudi membership, 28 percent of nominal global GDP, and 52 percent when measuring by purchasing power parity (PPP).
By every measure – population, landmass, energy output, GDP, food output and nuclear weapons – BRICS is not just another multilateral debating society. They are a substantial and credible alternative to Western hegemony.