Niger: New Government and Risk of Food Crisis

The military junta that overthrew Niger President Mohamed Bazoum in recent days has formed a new government. Meanwhile, the country is at risk of a major food crisis, and after yesterday’s failed diplomatic mission, ECOWAS is meeting today.

Abdourahamane Tiani, the military leader of the country, announced on state television the formation of a government headed by Ali Mahamane Lamine Zein supported by 20 ministers. In particular, the defense and internal affairs will be manager by the generals of the National Council for the Defense of the Motherland, that is, the forces that carried out the coup. A resistance group has been formed in the meantime – the Resistance Council for the Republic, with the goal of returning President Bazoum to power.

According to reports in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Ali Mahamane Lamine Zein, a technocrat, economist and former finance minister of Niger, was chosen for his “presentability” in the eyes of international observers.

Instead, an extraordinary ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) summit is being held in Abuja, Nigeria to decide how to respond to the events in Niger. In recent days, ECOWAS has threatened military intervention, although some analysts have expressed doubts about the credibility of this threat. Of course, sanctions have been imposed against Niger, including cutting off power supply, which creates many difficulties for the Sahel country.

The humanitarian situation in Niger is particularly difficult, with food crisis risk. The Italian news agency ANSA reports the words of Morena Zucchelli, head of the Coopi-Cooperazione Internazionale (International Cooperation) mission in Niger operating in the country since 2012, “The consequences of the coup could have a devastating effect on the lives of millions of people, especially those who are already in need of humanitarian assistance. The first negative impact can be found in access to food products: rising food prices, especially for staples (rice, onions, and potatoes), could lead to a severe food crisis in a few weeks.” In addition, the lack of electricity also puts the health care system at serious risk, as it makes it impossible to store certain types of medicines and vaccines. Zucchelli then stressed that even their activities in recent days have been drastically hampered by the inability to find basic necessities such as food and fuel.