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Niger coup leaders repeal law against migrant smuggling legislation allowing authorities to take action against smugglers.

Mohamed Bazoum – who had worked with the EU to stem the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean – was overthrown in July in a coup.

In the meantime, Gen Abdourahmane Tchiani has taken over as the new head of state.

Niger’s ruling junta announced the repeal in a statement, saying the law did not consider the interests of its residents.

The move indicates that the junta in Niamey plans to assert its authority over the country’s sovereignty, despite international pressure.

As a result of the coup in the summer, all security cooperation between the EU and the landlocked West African country was suspended.

In July, Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, joined the US and France in refusing to recognize Gen Tchiani. Furthermore, he announced that Niger’s budgetary aid would be suspended indefinitely.

The European bloc’s strategy for managing migration flows from Africa has taken a severe blow, and it is unclear how it will respond.

A million asylum seekers and migrants attempted to reach Europe in 2015, prompting Niger to pass the now-overturned law.

This resulted in a significant reduction in numbers, but traffickers bemoaned its implementation in the following years.

Bachir Amma said back in 2019: “I would return to people trafficking if the law was loosened. It earns me up to $6,000 [£4,700] a week.”

Traffickers could be imprisoned for “long periods of time” if caught, and their vehicles could be confiscated if caught.

The Niger is a key part of the Sahel region of Africa, a belt of land stretching from the Atlantic to the Red Sea.