Disinformation flourishes in Niger following July 26 coup

After the coup on July 26, Niger has emerged as a center of disinformation in the turbulent Sahel region. As West African nations strive to address the political crisis, numerous misleading posts on social media, including false rumors, manipulated videos, and altered audio clips, have surfaced. Over a dozen such claims, whether supporting or undermining the coup leaders who removed President Mohamed Bazoum, have been proven false.

Following the ousting of President Bazoum, a series of misleading events have circulated online. A video that appeared to depict a pro-Bazoum rally in Niger’s capital on August 6 was actually filmed on the day of the president’s removal. Another viral video, showing a weeping former finance minister faced with an ultimatum from coup leaders, was discovered to be from 2021 and involved Niger’s ex-Justice Minister expressing gratitude to the former president. The crisis has also led to misleading reports about foreign involvement, including claims of French fighter jets in Senegal and Russian mercenaries in Niger.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), led by Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, condemned the coup and imposed sanctions. False information has arisen about possible foreign military interventions, including support from French fighter jets and Russian mercenaries. This coup has made Niger the third Sahel country, alongside Mali and Burkina Faso, to experience such political upheaval in recent years. Amidst this, anti-French sentiment is growing, as Niger’s new military leaders align with Mali and Burkina Faso, distancing themselves from Paris in favor of closer ties with Moscow.