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Niger’s Uranium and Gold exports to France suspended

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Niamey, Niger – The political situation in Niger has taken a dramatic turn as the country’s military junta, now known as the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Fatherland, has seized power in a coup, leading to the suspension of uranium and gold exports to France. West African leaders have issued stern warnings of potential military action against the junta, while protests within Niger have escalated with demonstrators carrying Russian flags storming the French embassy in the capital city of Niamey.

Protesters in Niger expressed their support for the coup by burning a French flag and shouting “Down with France!” The unrest in the country stems from the military junta’s announcement last week that they had captured democratically-elected President Mohamed Bazoum and ousted his government, citing national security and corruption concerns.

On Sunday, thousands of Nigeriens took to the streets to show their support for the coup, with many carrying Russian flags and chanting pro-Putin messages. Images purportedly from the scene showed fires outside the French embassy in Niamey, along with French flags being burned and projectiles thrown at the former colonial power’s mission. However, the authenticity of these images could not be independently verified by CNBC.

In response to the political turmoil, West African leaders from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have issued a seven-day ultimatum to the military junta, demanding the restoration of President Muhammed Bazoum to office. As part of the measures, the border between Niger and all member states remains closed.

The international community has also voiced its concerns and reactions. The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, announced the immediate cessation of budget support and all cooperation actions in the domain of security with Niger. The EU had allocated 503 million euros ($554 million) from its budget to support governance, education, and sustainable growth in Niger over the 2021-2024 period. Borrell emphasized that President Bazoum remains the only legitimate leader of Niger and called for his immediate release, urging the coup leaders to be held accountable for his safety and that of his family.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov joined the appeal for Bazoum’s release, urging all sides to exercise restraint and return to order. This comes amidst allegations that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the boss of the Wagner Group mercenary organization with extensive interests in Africa, welcomed the coup in a recording posted to Telegram from a Wagner-affiliated group, hinting at potential external influence.

The African Union has demanded that the military in Niger return to their barracks and restore constitutional authority within 15 days since seizing power. These responses from regional and international bodies underline the gravity of the situation and the potential ramifications for the stability of the region.

As the situation unfolds, both Niger and the international community remain on edge, closely monitoring developments. The suspension of uranium and gold exports to France further complicates the already volatile political landscape, and concerns for the welfare of the nation and its valuable resources remain at the forefront of discussions. The calls for a peaceful resolution and respect for democratic principles echo worldwide, urging a return to constitutional order in Niger and seeking ways to mitigate the growing tensions.

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