by Aly Jonas

Niger: Accusations of destabilization by the Prime Minister against Benin and France

Niger: Accusations de déstabilisation par le Premier ministre contre le Bénin et la France

In a context of heightened tensions between Niger and Benin, the Nigerien Prime Minister, during a press conference held this Saturday, May 11, strongly criticized the Beninese authorities.

Diplomatic relations between the two nations are currently at a standstill, largely due to the closure of the Niger border and the blocking of Niger's hydrocarbon exports on the Beninese side.

Surrounded by influential members of the junta and the Minister of Oil, Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine publicly accused Benin of seeking to strangle Niger economically. He stressed that the blocking of crude oil exports via the port of Sémè Kpodji constitutes a flagrant violation of a series of bilateral agreements concluded between the two countries, as well as with China, co-owner of the operating company. Nigerien energy resources.

For Mahaman Lamine Zeine, this situation endangers thousands of direct jobs and crucial tax revenues for Niger. Earlier this month, Benin decided to ban ships from loading Nigerien oil until Niamey reopens its border.

The transitional Prime Minister also raised another major concern, claiming to have evidence of the presence of five French bases in Benin, which, according to him, house terrorist elements intended to destabilize Niger.

If military cooperation between Benin and France is a proven fact - Cotonou has never hidden it - many security experts in the region believe that the accusation of wanting to destabilize Niger is unfounded. Nevertheless, Mahaman Lamine Zeine concluded his speech on an opening note, expressing the wish to find a solution to this impasse. Niger has requested mediation from the Chinese side in this matter.