#Article (Archive)

A bad signal

Oct 20, 2010, 12:15 PM

We said sometime ago that the situation in Niger, since the military junta took over power in that country, could escalate. And recent developments have now proved us right.

The reported recent arrests in the capital, Niamey, are hardly surprising to observers of the politics in that country, since the junta ousted President Mamadou Tandja.

The General Salou Djibo-led junta seized power in a dramatic February putsch against former President Tandja, who, according to reports, angered many Nigeriens when he altered the country's constitution to extend his rule.

Djibo had since won international plaudits for pledging to return the government to civilian rule within one year.

However, the shame that most Africans feared has come to pass.

The junta, from the look of things, has pricked the conscience of the continent when it announced at the weekend that it had arrested two senior military officers from within its ranks, on suspicion of conspiring to overthrow junta leader Djibo.

These arrests, no doubt, could see division within the junta and that could also pose a threat to a planned return to civilian rule next year in the uranium-producing West African state.

"Colonels Badie and Sidikou have been arrested, and are detained in the national security headquarters as part of a probe into a plot against the state," a high-ranking officer told Reuters News Agency.

Now that the situation in Niger is getting somehow tense, it will be good for the international community to intervene to save innocent citizens of Niger from what we have witnessed in other parts of the continent.

The African Union, ECOWAS and the entire international community should support the efforts of the people of Niger to see to it that the country returns to civilian rule.

This is one of the few ways out for the people of Niger and the continent, in particular, as we have had enough problems in the continent over the past years.

Whatever the case may be, Nigeriens, especially the military junta, should spare the continent the shame of failing to live up to expectations by returning the country to civilian rule as planned.

"Force is not a remedy".

John Bright