Sanctions, hunger as Niger junta digs in

Three months after overthrowing the country's elected government, Niger's ruling military junta is continuing to crack down on critical media and peaceful dissent. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said in a joint statement that dozens of officials from the ousted administration have been arrested, and called on the authorities to end arbitrary detentions. To try and force the regime to relinquish power, landlocked Niger's southern neighbor Nigeria has shut its border and imposed stringent sanctions through regional bloc ECOWAS—including cutting off electricity supplies and blocking food shipments. The EU is also preparing its own package of measures aimed at individuals involved in the July 26 coup.

Meanwhile, Nigeriens are struggling with galloping inflation and shortages of staple items; aid operations have also been interrupted. With the country cut off from international loans and financial support, this year's budget has been slashed by 40%. Yet despite the hardships, some reports suggest the junta is still able to surf a patriotic public wave. The junta has announced a three-year transition to civilian rule—far longer than regional leaders expected.

From The New Humanitarian, Oct. 27