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Niger coup: Analyst says situation stems from 'weak' leadership in the sahel region

Niger's coup leaders   -  
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Nearly two weeks have passed since the coup in Niger, and the country faces a difficult path to return to civilian rule, according to a researcher from the University of South Africa.

One of the two men vying for control is the President Mohamed Bazoum, the ousted president who last week said he’s being held hostage and has been publicly silent since then.

The other is Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, the military junta leader who asserts he acted out of concern for the country's security and has encouraged Nigeriens to defend it from any foreign intervention.

Sipho Mantula, a researcher at the University of South Africa in Johannesburg, described the emerging power struggle as typical of recent political crises in the Sahel region.

"If you look at these two characters, it also characterizes the weak leadership, the deficit of leadership in the Sahel region, where you have a civilian leader failing and you have a military leader who wants to take power," Mantula said.

Mantula also underscored the supposed fallout between Bazoum and Tchiani as a background to the conflict, a claim backed in a report by International Crisis Group which on Monday said Bazoum has been preparing to fire Tchiani.

"And this has been the trend in the Sahel region in terms of this rising of young military leaders. Most of them they have been close to the presidency, but once they move out, they want to capture power. There is a problem in terms of how do you restore civilian rule." Mantula added.

"Military coups in Africa. They've got a trend and they have got a pattern of also the imaging of young military rulers questioning most of the senior leaders who have been governing most of the countries for long. So it is also the question of is Africa redefining its democracy through military coups or is Africa also under threat by external democracy principles? Because it appears that when Germany or France or the U.S. speaks, we start to jump. But also we don't define our own democratic practices because indeed you need to have military-civilian relations, the military belongs to the barracks, they don't belong in the state house."

Leaders of West Africa's regional bloc said they would meet later this week to discuss next steps after Tchiani's junta defied a deadline to reinstate the president, while Niger's mutinous soldiers also closed its airspace and accused foreign powers of preparing an attack.

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