Niger parliament approves sending troops to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram

Niger Army; Photo credits: Wikipedia

Niger’s parliament has given an unanimous approval for the deployment of the country’s troops to Nigeria to join a multinational force taking on the jihadist group, Boko Haram.

The Nigerien forces will join their Chadian counterparts who are already fighting on Nigerian soil in north-eastern Borno State where Boko Haram has killed thousands and displaced many more.

Ahead of the vote in Niamey Monday, Boko Haram launched an overnight raid Sunday on the border town on Diffa, and followed that up with a bomb attack Monday.

Chad and Niger- by far smaller than Nigeria- have grown into military relevance in stopping Boko Haram, after Nigeria for five years failed to crush the group and instead lost towns, key military facilities and weapons to the group.

Boko Haram vowed in a new video released Monday to defeat the coalition that also has Cameroon, Nigeria’s neighbour to the east.

The four countries, as well as Benin, have agreed to send a joint force of 7,500 troops to battle the militant group.

Before Niger’s parliamentary vote, the country massed more than 3,000 troops in its southern region of Diffa on the border with Nigeria, awaiting approval to cross into Nigeria.

“The pooling of the efforts and resources of concerned countries will contribute without doubt to crushing this group which shows scorn, through its barbaric acts, for the Muslim religion,” Niger’s parliamentary speaker Adamou Salifou said after the vote late on Monday, Reuters news agency reported.

“Our country has never failed it its solidarity with its neighbours,” he said.

The vote was supported by all 102 deputies present, Reuters reported.

On Friday, French army official said in Paris that a detachment of 10 military personnel had been stationed in Diffa at the request of Niger, its former colony.

“The detachment is there to coordinate the armies on the ground in the fight against Boko Haram,” he said.

The African Union (AU) has authorised a force of 7,500 troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin to fight the militants.

It is expected to seek a UN Security Council mandate, which could also include logistical support from other countries.

President Francois Hollande said Paris was also providing logistical and operation support, including delivering fuel and munitions to countries fighting Boko Haram.

He said France could not be expected to get involved in every crisis around the world and accused other major powers of inaction in Africa.

“This is a message to the international community and the biggest countries. Do your work and stop giving lessons and take action!” he said.

“In Africa, we have to help the Africans a lot more to fight terrorism, because if we do not, then other countries will be destabilised,” he added.

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