| 3 December 2023, Sunday |

India: Modi faces no-confidence vote over Manipur conflict

On Thursday, West African leaders are set to convene for a meeting following Niger’s military junta’s refusal to meet the deadline for reinstating the deposed president of the country. However, analysts suggest that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) might be running low on options as backing for a military intervention diminishes.
As Niger’s junta turns away most efforts at mediation, one analyst asserted that Russian meddling in the country has spiked in the two weeks since mutinous soldiers overthrew democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum, who has refused to step down and is under house arrest.

The junta announced a new government on Wednesday night. More than half of the 21 positions were filled by civilians. The rest were military appointments.

Niger was seen as the last country in the Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert that Western nations could partner with to counter jihadi violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group that has killed thousands and displaced millions of people. The international community is scrambling to find a peaceful solution to the country’s leadership crisis.

“Let me tell you, any coup that has succeeded beyond 24 hours has come to stay. So, as it is, they are speaking from the point of strength and advantage,” Oladeinde Ariyo, a security analyst in neighboring Nigeria, said. “So, negotiating with them will have to be on their terms.”

Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is leading the ECOWAS push. On Wednesday, a Nigerian delegation led by the Emir of Kano, Khalifa Muhammad Sanusi, met the junta’s leader, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani. The emir was one of few people allowed to meet Tchiani.

Acting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland met with the coup leaders earlier this week but was denied access to both Tchiani and Bazoum. A separate delegation comprised of ECOWAS, the United Nations and the African Union was barred from coming at all.

West Africa’s regional bloc has failed to stem past coups throughout the region. Niger is the fourth country in the 15-member state bloc to have experienced a coup in the last three years.

The bloc imposed harsh economic and travel sanctions and threatened to use military force if Bazoum was not reinstated by Sunday, a deadline the junta ignored. There is no indication the coup leaders are willing to budge on reinstating Bazoum, who says he is being held hostage in his residence with his wife and son.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is anticipated to address Parliament members directly from the floor on Thursday, as his government grapples with a vote on a motion of no-confidence.

The no-confidence motion was set forth by a new grand alliance of India’s opposition parties led by the Congress party.

They have been demanding the prime minister directly address the bloodshed in northeastern Manipur state.

Modi has mostly remained silent on the violence that broke out early May, with the state now teetering on the brink of a civil war.

He publicly spoke on the matter when a video, showing two women being paraded naked, went viral in July and sparked global outrage.
The motion does not pose a serious risk to Modi’s ruling government as his alliance has a combined 331 seats in the lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party alone has 303 seats. To secure power, a party or coalition must control 272 seats.

The vote of no-confidence has been historically used as a tool to force a debate on a certain issue.

India is burning, opposition says
“If Manipur is burning, India is burning. If Manipur is divided, India is divided,” Congress lawmaker Gaurav Gogoi said two days ago on the opening day of the debate on the no-confidence motion.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi told parliament that the army should have been able to stop the violence already. But despite the presence of troops, violence has festered for over three months.

Gandhi, who returned to parliament after being reinstated as a lawmaker this week, called for the firing of the state government run by Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP.

Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah, said Wednesday the government was deeply concerned about the violence in Manipur, which he described as a “dance of fury.”

He rejected the opposition party’s demand to fire the state’s top elected leader, Biren Singh, who belongs to his party.

  • DW