In the midst of an anti-democratic military coup against the pro-Western leader of Niger, the country’s population appears to be throwing its support behind .
The country, located in the western Sahel region of Africa, has become a flashpoint for geopolitical tension between pro-Russian, -affiliated neighbouring nations and their democratic counterparts nearby.
The former French colony has been suffering for decades at the hands of Islamic terrorists and the population appears to concur with the military putschists that the pro-Western president’s attempts to curb the violence have been inadequate.
Nearly 80 percent of respondents to a poll conducted since the military coup on July 26 have said they support the junta.
And this backing is quickly translating into what, at least on the face of it, appears to be tantamount to pro-Russian sentiment.
After the military deposed Mr Bazoum, the streets of Niger’s capital, Niamey, were awash with pro-Russian placards, according to footage.
One trader in the capital told Reuters that Russian flags are in such high demand now that the fabrics are even becoming “difficult to stock”.
And as a Nigeria-led cohort of countries, known as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), deliberates on Thursday (August 10) on how to intervene, preferring the restoration of the democratically-elected Mr Bazoum, a poll conducted by Premise Data has shown that just six percent support such an intervention.
Support for Russia intervention, conversely, sits at 53 percent, while overall backing of the military junta is at 79 percent.
The United States, who maintains a military drone base in Niger with more than 1,000 troops present on the site, this week expressed concern that the Russian support could open the way for the Wagner Group to infiltrate the country.
The private military company, now notorious for their bloody takeover of the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, is currently stationed in neighbouring Mali, employed by the government to handle the Islamic terrorists operating across the Sahel. They are also heavily linked with a move into Burkina Faso, another neighbouring nation that appears to widely support the mercenaries.
Their influence in those two countries is feared to be significant al. “That’s what Wagner potentially offers them.”
In one video of the protests, a young man provided a window into the views of those on the ground. He said he “liked Russia because … I think they have a solution”.