Niger, ex hostage Chiacchio: “Ecowas intervention? Unpredictable consequences”

“Country bulwark for migrant flows, inevitable West collaborates with coup plotters”

It is “inevitable” that the West eventually collaborates with the coup plotters in Niger on the migration issue, while a possible military intervention by the countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) would have “unpredictable consequences”, which in a recent meeting in Abuja did not rule out the use of force if the coup junta does not release President Mohamed Bazoum within a week. This was stated in an interview with Adnkronos by Nicola Chiacchio, kidnapped by a group affiliated to al-Qaeda in February 2019 on the road to Timbuktu, held hostage for 20 months between Mali and Niger and released in Mali, together with Father Maccalli, in October 2020.

“I don’t know if there was a precedent or it would be the first time. And I don’t know if such an intervention is legal – continues Chiacchio, a globetrotting cyclist who is now in Afghanistan, always referring to a possible intervention by Ecowas – But if it worked it could be a deterrent to future military coups that have been repeated in the region in recent years, and it would be a way for Africans to face their own problems directly”.

The United States and some European countries, including Germany, have already announced the suspension of their cooperation with Niamey. A stance that does not completely convince Chiacchio, according to whom it is “difficult to say which solution could be better if you don’t know at least what the goal you want to achieve is. And even if you define the goal, since there are several players who participate in the process, it is said that the choices that are adopted lead to the desired result”.

Isolating Niger, explains the former Italian hostage, could be counterproductive for the West also from the point of view of the migration issue. The African country “was the last bastion for the control of the flows of migrants through the Sahel. Europe and the United States were investing heavily in the country – he says – Given the current situation, it seems inevitable that all collaboration with the coup junta will be suspended “.

Chiacchio stresses that in any case it is “difficult” that the coup d’état promoted by the military, with General Abdourahmane Tchani proclaiming himself president, could lead to “an improvement” in the situation in Niger. “The ‘democratic’ model adopted after independence does not seem to work in many African countries that experience ten-year governments by the same person and children, or repeated military coups. In both cases, the benefits for the population are few – concludes the cyclist – Yes it’s mostly about power struggles over dividing the country’s aid or natural resource pie.”