Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou traveled to France and the UK this week. He has continued to voice concerns about the rebellion in neighboring Mali and to urge an international intervention. Issoufou made headlines last week for claiming that Afghans and Pakistanis are present in northern Mali, training terrorists (this claim has circulated before). Issoufou said, “I see the necessity for a U.N. Security Council resolution on the Mali situation to allow the use of force to restore integrity of Mali’s territory. I am optimistic because Western powers are aware of the danger that threatens them in the Sahel.”
Issoufou has reiterated these themes in Europe this week. European leaders certainly seem to take the problems in Mali seriously, although they are stating their preference for regional powers to take the lead. French President Francois Hollande, after meeting with Issoufou, told journalists, “This threat exists, it’s for the Africans to avert it, for them to decide. [The Economic Community of West African States] is at once the judicial instrument for that and the possible military instrument…It’s for the Africans to go to the Security Council, we will back the resolution that will be put forward by ECOWAS.” Niger, from what I can tell, is the most hawkish member of ECOWAS when it comes to the Malian crisis.
In London, Issoufou touted Niger’s economic growth, promoting the country as an investment destination, noting its uranium and oil resources. The audio of his speech at Chatham House (with simultaneous translation) is here.
Readers may also be interested in this interview Issoufou did with Al Jazeera a few weeks ago, where he talks about Mali and Libya.