On December 27, 2021, the Niger government led by Mohamed Bazoum announced that it was expelling 8 Rwandans from the Niger territory. The 8 Rwandans were recently acquitted or freed by the United Nations Organization International Criminal Tribunal (ICT) and sent to Niger, following tens of years of controversial trials in Arusha, Tanzania. According to AfroAmerica Network sources within President Mohamed Bazoum entourage, the decision to break the agreement with the United Nations came, following a lenghty direct phone conversation among Niger President Mohamed Bazoum in Niamey and French President Emmanuel Macron and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, from Paris on December 20 , 2021.
These 8 Rwandans, who had been in the Rwandan government or military until 1994, were sent to Niger based on the Agreement between the Niger government and the United Nations Organization, signed in Niamey, Niger, on November 15, 2021. The 8 Rwandans are the following:
- Zigiranyirazo Protais
- Nzuwonemeye Francois Xavier
- Nteziryatyo Alphose
- Muvunyi Tharcisse
- Ntagerura Andre
- Nsengiyumva Anatole
- Mugiraneza Prosper
- Sagahutu Innocent
One person, Bicamumpaka Jerome Clement, was removed from the list at the last minute, when the Niger government learned that the Canadian government was closely following the case related to the person.
The decision to expel the Rwandans was contained in an executive order signed by the Interior and Decentralizatioin Minister, Hamadou Adamou Souley,on December 27, 2021. The targeted individuals were given 7 days to leave the country. The Niger government stated that the decision driven by critical diplomatic considerations and interests.
The question was then the following: what was behind these diplomatic interests?
According to AfroAmerica Network sources within the Niger government, the decision was made after a lenghty call received by President Mohamed Bazoum from French President Emmanuel Macron, on December 20, 2021.
In fact, the announcement follows the December 19-21, 2021 visit to France by Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame and his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, in Paris.
Other AfroAmerica Network sources close to the Rwandan government said that the meeting between Emmanuel Macron and Paul Kagame in Paris on December 20, 2021 focused on the progress of the deployment of Rwanda troops to Mozambique region of Cabo Delgado, especially in Afungi, an area rich in oil, gas and minerals, to fight against growing insecurity and civil war, and most importantly protect the interests of the French oil company Total. The sources, without being specific, also mentionned that the situations in West Africa, including Mali, Niger, and Central African Republic were dicussed.
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France - Niger - Rwanda Relations: A condition for Rwandan Peace Keeping Forces in Niger
The influence of France, under Emmanuel Macron's leadership, has been heavily weighted down and mostly dwindled in Africa, especially in West Africa. This has impacted the French economy that relies on natural resources and raw materials from the region and exports to Africa. France has also been the target of prominent African activists, including the PanAfrican movement (See here: Kémi Séba: AfroAmerica Network Black Man of Year 2021) and African leaders, such as the new Mali's transitional President Colonel Assimi Goita, who while pledging the return to civilian rule in February 2022 after holding presidential and legislative elections, has decided to expel French troops from Mali.
Hence, France has tried to rely on some African leaders to continue its influence and to protect its interests. Among these leaders are African dictators, such as General Paul Kagame, and others, with weak administrations and facing deadly insurgency, seeking protection from France, especially Niger President Mohamed Bazoum.
On March 31, 2021, just two days before President Mohamed Bazoum was sworn in as President of Niger, the Niger's security forces thwarted an attempted coup by a military unit in the capital Niamey. The coup was averted by the Presidential Guard. Despite the coup attempt, on April 2, 2021, Bazoum was sworn in, becoming the country’s first democratically elected president since independence in 1960.
Since then, according to AfroAmerica Network sources within his inner circle, President Mohamed Bazoum does not trust the military and has been seeking help from the French government. His government has also been facing a deadly jihadist insurgency causing chaos in the west of the country and across the broader Sahel region. The French government, based on the experience in Mozambique has proposed to invite, officially or secretely, Rwandan special forces or troops into Niger to support Niger Presidential Guard and the loyal troops. The troops will also provide security around gold and uranium mines and oil resources areas.
Hence, the AfroAmerica Network Sources within the Niger government confirm that expelling 8 Rwandans is the key condition in the execution of an elaborate plan that was adopted when Niger President Mohamed Bazoum approached the French President for help to ensure the security of his government and administration.
French President Emmanuel Macron proposed to use the Rwandan troops, given their promoted performance in Mozambique, South Sudan, and Central African Republic, but as importantly, the need for secrecy and for not exposing the French troops in an area where they are not welcome. France was then to help in convincing Paul Kagame and would provide enough funds for the operations.
President Mohamed Bazoum found the proposition brilliant. French President Emmanual Macron then invited General Paul Kagame to dicuss the proposition of sending the Rwandan troops and special forces into Niger. Some of the special forces finished their training in mid December 2021.
From there, the execution of the plan went as follows:
- French President Emmanuel Macron organized a sudden short visit of General Paul Kagame to Paris, France between December 19-21, 2021.
- Then, on December 20, 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron and General Paul Kagame held a discussion in Paris. Unexpectedly, General Paul Kagame raised a condition: expelling the 8 Rwandans from Niger, without delay
- Immediately, Emmanuel Macron and Paul Kagame called Mohamed Bazoum to submit the condition. He immediately accepted, without any condition.
- A week later, on December 27, 2021, the decision to expel the 8 Rwandans was made public.
What is next:
- Will Rwandan troops deploy secretely into Niger and help stop insecurity, secure the government and administration of Mohamed Bazoum and protect the French Government's interests in the region?
- WIll the United Nations Organization and the International Criminal Tribunal allow Niger Mohamed Bazoum's government to break the agreement signed just a month earlier and to expel the 8 Rwandans?
- What will be the fate of the 8 Rwandans, who have been found innocent or freed by the International Criminal Tribunal (ICTR), after decades of controversial trials and detention? Will be they forced into Rwanda, where they almost certainly face mistreatment, prison, or death?
AfroAmerica Network is still following the story.
© 2021 AfroAmerica Network
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