Niger has decided to suspend the transit of petroleum products destined for neighboring Mali for security reasons, in the face of the threat of jihadist groups.
The news was confirmed to the AFP news agency Tuesday by customs sources.
In a memo dated 21 September, the Niger Customs Directorate General announced the suspension of the issuance of transit permits for petroleum products granted to users in Mali.
Products destined for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Mali (Minusma) are not concerned by this suspension, the memo added.
In addition, the note announces the suspension of already issued authorizations for the supply of petroleum products in Mali and which are not intended for the UN mission.
This decision was taken three days before the invective of the Malian interim Prime Minister, Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga, against Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum. Speaking at the UN’s 77th general assembly, he accused Mr. Bazoum of being a “foreign who se réclame from Niger”.
Praising “the Nigerien people who is a brother to Mali”, Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga added President Mohamed Bazoum’s “actions” reinforced the suspicions the Malian authorities had that he is not “Nigerien”.
This accusation dates back to 2019 when Bazoum was chosen by his party to be the candidate to the presidential election. Several members of the opposition then attempted to have his candidacy invalidated, accusing the candidate of having provided a false certificate of nationality.
Their request was finally rejected by the Constitutional Court in December 2020 as “unfounded,” but the suspicions persist.
“This measure is really motivated by security reasons, not anything else,” said a customs source on condition of anonymity, adding that deliveries to the Minusma will be “escorted to the border of Mali”.
In Niger and neighboring Burkina Faso, several sources report frequent hijackings of trucks carrying hydrocarbons by jihadist groups.
Niger and Mali have been facing attacks by jihadist groups affiliated with the Islamic State (EI) and al-Qaeda for years.
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