General Tchiani Leads Coup Against President Bazoum in Niger
On 26 July 2023, Niger’s Presidential Guard arrested President Bazoum and declared the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Homeland (CNSP). On 27 July the military joined the coup in support of the new government. The coup has been denounced by the U.$., France, European Union, ECOWAS, and others. ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, is an organization of the comprador-bourgeoisie of 15 West-African states including Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and southern border of Niger. ECOWAS has threatened to invade Niger and restore the former government. Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, and others have voiced support for the coup. Burkina Faso has declared that they would view an invasion of Niger as an act of war on themselves. What is to explain this web of contradictions and interests?
Since Niger’s independence in 1960 there have been a total of 4 coups. This has been viewed by bourgeois media as the inability of Niger to create a stable democracy on their own without the “aid” of the imperialist masters. This line coming from France is especially hypocritical as the one party system in Niger during 1960-1974 was in large part France’s doing, with the banning of parties such as the Mouvement Socialiste Africain-Sawaba (MSA). In reality, the independence Niger gained in 1960 is wildly exaggerated. Niger’s status as a French colony since 1922 has led many to believe that their liberation from this status represents a complete independence, as is enjoyed by the likes of France and Amerika. On the contrary, France and Amerika combined have over 2,500 troops stationed within Niger’s borders with billions invested in the construction and maintenance of military and drone bases. This is because Niger contains vast uranium reserves which are vital particularly in France’s energy supply. “Areva” was, before 2016, a state-owned French company operating in nuclear energy. Through a series of acquisitions, Areva became a major player in Niger’s uranium industry.
“AREVA’s two subsidiaries in Niger, Somaïr and Cominak, benefit from a number of tax advantages: exemptions from duties, VAT and even fuel taxes, which they use in massive amounts. A ‘provision for the reconstruction of mines’ also lets them set aside 20% of their profits which are therefore excluded from corporate taxes. In 2010, the two subsidiaries extracted a total of 114,346 metric tonnes of uranium in Niger, representing an export value of 2.3 trillion CFA francs (over 3.5 billion euros). From that sum, Niger was only paid 300 billion CFA francs (approximately 459 million euros), or 13% of the exported value.” (1)
On top of this, Niger uses the West African CFA franc which allows France significant control over the economy. This exploitation has produced revolutionary views among the people that the new government is seeking to pander to. The CNSP government gave an order for the French diplomats to leave the country and has echoed the anti-French sentiment in popular protests. We uphold the revolutionary anti-French sentiment of the people of Niger while also recognizing that this is a common tactic and method of the bourgeoisie in order to adopt and assimilate national liberation movements.
The purely economic exploitation of Niger is the form which imperialism takes that distinguishes it from colonialism. Because the market says that this trade is fair, and the market is ingrained in people’s minds as eternal, people assume that this is just the way it is and Niger will need to find some way to operate more successfully in the market. In reality, the terms of this trade benefit France at the expense of Niger; but Niger has no political-economic power to assert its own interests. The imperialist exploitation of their land and resources combined with the devastating health effects of uranium mining has produced a strong anti-imperialist movement which Amerika and France are attempting to deal with. Niger is a majority peasant country, which means that its anti-imperialist movement is of the new democratic type involving the national bourgeoisie, petty bourgeoisie, peasantry, and proletariat, with the peasantry as the major reserve. The event of 26 July, as a coup led by pre-established powers, was a movement with the national bourgeoisie at the spearhead. If Niger is going to see liberation, the national bourgeoisie must be replaced by the proletariat at the vanguard.
The 4th Republic of France (1944-1958) retained its colonial rule over Niger. The contradictions of this rule collapsed the 4th Republic and forced colonialism into advanced imperialism. Rather than direct political rule, the 5th French Republic had to cede independence to its colonies and retain only economic control. The so-called independence of Niger is a facade. The instability in Niger and the consequently frequent shifting of power from one faction to another is the unfolding of the contradiction among the national bourgeoisie and the comprador bourgeoisie (and oftentimes factions within the two class forces as well). It will only reach its next qualitative stage through revolution: not power struggles of one section of the comprador regime by another. This is only possible through a dictatorship led by the proletariat of Niger in a new democratic united front alongside the peasantry, the progressive national-bourgeoisie, the petty-bourgeoisie, and lumpen-proletarians who have decided to join the revolution.
China and Russia have made statements regarding the situation that have led some to believe they are allies of Niger, or at least not explicitly opposed to the coup. “Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia called for all sides in Niger to show restraint, and for the fastest possible return to legal order.”(2) Aljazeera reported on a supposed Wagner Group statement that was explicit in support for Niger: “What happened in Niger is nothing other than the struggle of the people of Niger with their colonizers.”(3) “The Chinese government intends to provide good offices, play a mediating role so that a political resolution to the crisis in Niger could be found with full respect to countries in the region,” the ambassador said at a meeting with Niger’s rebel-appointed prime minister, Ali Lamine Zeine. (4)
Can Niger throw off Amerika and France by allying with China and Russia? Certainly the hystory of the struggle of the oppressed shows that the tactical utility of the contradictions between the oppressors is indispensable to the revolutionary struggle. But without scientific leadership these complex contradictions cannot be managed and alliance with one or another imperialist will result in a change of oppressor and not the overthrow of all oppression. We believe in the strength of the people of Niger, and the CNSP government may succeed in cutting french monopoly in the interests of the nation. This will heighten the contradiction, leading to the preconditions for war and contributing to the world conditions for another Great Inter-Imperialist World War as Niger struggles for allies. Imperialism, rotting alive for more than 100 years, is in a dubious position to survive such an event.
Long Live The People of Niger
Down With Imperialism
1. Anne-Sophie Simpere, 19th December 2013, Areva in Niger: who is benefiting from the uranium?, Oxfam International
2. 31 Jul 2023, Situation in Niger is ‘cause for serious concern’, says Kremlin, Aljazeera
3. 28 Jul 2023, Russia’s Wagner boss appears to hail Niger coup, tout services, Aljazeera
4.05 September 2023, China Wants to Mediate Resolution of Crisis in Niger - Ambassador, Sputnik International