Statement of Revolutionary Communist Party of France (PCRF)
August 5, 2023
The situation in Niger and the issues at stake
PCRF press release
On July 26, 2023, in Niamey, Niger, President Mohamed Bazoum was overthrown by Abourahamane Tiani, the former head of the presidential guard who had served him for 10 years, with the help of part of the Nigerien military apparatus and the active support of a large part of the Nigerien masses, as witnessed by the demonstration on Sunday July 30, which brought together thousands of demonstrators in front of the French embassy.
This is the third coup d’état in the Sahel since 2020, and once again we find the same political justification and the same reason for real popular support, even if, for the PCRF, the army’s seizure of power in no way constitutes a revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeois state in favor of the people of Niger, it represents the absolute checkmate of the French state in its military front line in the Sahel. Mali and Burkina Faso were the first countries to emancipate themselves from a [French] military presence whose role has become increasingly clear to the popular masses of the Sahel that of preserving the interests of French imperialism in the Sahel, rather than putting an end to the jihad.
The entire imperialist apparatus of the European Union was set in motion to support the French state, which suffered a third major defeat in its historic zone of influence. The Community of West African States (ECOWAS) gave an ultimatum for the putschists to reinstate Mohamed Bazoum, without which all commercial transactions would be halted, and where the use of force was not ruled out. The organization’s chiefs of staff are meeting in Abuja until Friday, two days before the ultimatum expires. In line with the economic blockade decided on Sunday, Nigeria cut off its electricity supply to Niger, which is 70% dependent on its neighbor for energy. Germany, France, and the European Union then followed suit, halting all monetary flows and exports to Niger for the time being, with Emmanuel Macron calling an extraordinary defense council meeting. Biden also called for the release of the legitimate president and his family, while the US has the second greatest foreign military presence in Niger, with over 1,000 soldiers on the ground (France has 1,500). The World Bank announced the suspension of payments “for all its operations until further notice”.
Why don’t the workers and working classes living in France have any interest in supporting such measures, and why is it necessary to join forces against them?
Beneath its democratic facade, the French bourgeoisie is in fact an aggressive, rapacious, imperialist power in the Sahel. Operation Barkhane, which is officially over, has given way to a military presence numbering in the thousands, mainly in Chad and Niger, without any legal framework. At present, there is a struggle to recover a zone of influence that is essential for mineral resources such as bauxite, copper, and zinc. Let’s not forget that Niger has significant uranium resources for France, which does not want to abandon them, particularly at a time of inter-imperialist contradictions with the Russian state raging in the Sahel. Today, Niger accounts for 5% of world production of uranium and 15% of French supplies. The French group ORANO (ex-Areva) continues to operate the Somaïr uranium mine 800 kilometers north of the capital Niamey, with some 900 employees – almost all Nigeriens – and 1,200 subcontractors. The French monopoly ORANO, 90% owned by the bourgeois state, has been present in Niger for over 50 years through three subsidiaries organized under Nigerien law, and has three mining sites dedicated to the extraction of uranium, the ore that fuels nuclear reactors. These are Compagnie des mines d’Akokan (Cominak), Société des mines de l’Aïr (Somaïr) and Imouraren. All are co-owned by the Nigerien state and are in the country’s desert north-west, near the town of Arlit. At the Imouraren site, production has not yet begun. This site is often presented as the “mine of the century”, with reserves estimated at nearly 200,000 tons of uranium.
The counter-reform of pensions [increase in the retirement age] and the ongoing fasciation of the French state apparatus in metropolitan France are substantially linked to an international situation in which the French bourgeoisie is increasingly aggressive in defending, strengthening and extending its zones of influence, as evidenced by monopolies such as Vivendi or Total, well known to the popular masses throughout the Sahel for their infrastructure exports, plundering of natural resources, and political manipulations to capture sectors of the national bourgeoisie. Alongside increased aggression abroad, the capitalist state needs to step up exploitation and repression at home.
There is indeed no watertight separation between the struggles of French workers for their pensions, against police violence, and the struggle of the Nigerian popular masses for their right to self-determination at all levels.
The strategic question now is: will the riches of Niger’s subsoil continue to be exploited by French monopoly firms, or by the monopolies of other imperialists?
The working people of Niger must rid themselves of capitalism. They can find out for themselves, that by replacing one imperialism with another, no problem in the life of the people of Niger will be solved.
The PCRF demands respect for Niger’s national and popular sovereignty. The outcome of the current process in this African state will depend on the level of political leadership taken by the working class and the masses towards popular anti-imperialism and socialism.
EDITORS NOTE: This statement was translated from French by a MLT supporter.