“Aggressive” intentions from its neighbor Benin have led Niger to cancel a military cooperation agreement and close a southern door that ECOWAS had plans to use for intervention in case of military involvement.
The military officials holding power in Niger accused their neighbor Benin of “contemplating aggression” against their country, announcing the cancellation of the military cooperation agreement signed between the two nations in 2022.
In an official statement broadcast on state television, the military regime in Niamey stated that they had decided to cancel the agreement with Benin on July 11, 2022, after repeatedly calling for its adherence, but their calls went unanswered in Cotonou.
The military leaders, who came to power through a coup, added, “Benin has chosen to contemplate aggression against Niger instead of supporting it.”
They continued in their statement, “The Republic of Benin has authorized the deployment of mercenaries and military equipment in light of aggression against Niger, as desired by France in cooperation with some states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).”
The military regime reiterated its desire to “avoid escalation.”
Benin shares a southern border with Niger, and through this route, ECOWAS plans to intervene in the country where its army ousted President Mohamed Bazoum’s regime, in the event all diplomatic avenues are exhausted.
For weeks, ECOWAS has been threatening military intervention in Niger to restore constitutional order and return Mohamed Bazoum to power, despite the fact that the deposed president is detained and refuses to resign.
The agreement that the military has announced canceling is particularly related to the exchange of military intelligence and aerial assistance to monitor the movements of jihadists and carry out joint operations.
In recent months, northern Benin, bordering Niger and Burkina Faso, has witnessed terrorist attacks and infiltration operations.
Last weekend, the new authorities in Niamey accused France of preparing for “aggression” by deploying “forces” in several West African countries, but Paris, which does not recognize the military regime in Niamey, denied these accusations.
On August 3, the generals holding power in Niamey canceled numerous military agreements with France, affirming that the presence of 1,500 French soldiers on their territory had become illegal.