Misinformation aftermath of Niger coup: Fact-checking false claims

In the wake of the recent coup in Niger, the spread of false claims and misinformation online has added to the already tense situation surrounding the country’s future. It is important to separate fact from fiction in order to gain a clear understanding of the events taking place. One claim that has been circulating is that Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, known for capitalizing on instability in African countries, has deployed fighters in Niger. However, there is currently no evidence to support this claim. Although Wagner forces have been active in neighboring Mali and the Central African Republic, there is no confirmation of their presence in Niger. A video allegedly showing a Russian military plane landing in Niger’s capital, Niamey, has been widely shared. However, upon investigation, it was discovered that the footage is actually from 2006 and depicts the plane landing in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. This misinformation has likely been spread to further fuel tensions.

Another misleading video has been viewed over 500,000 times on TikTok, falsely presenting old footage of Wagner fighters in Africa as evidence of their presence in Niger. The video was originally a news report by France 24 about Wagner’s activities in Mali, but it has been manipulated to remove references to Mali. This kind of manipulation of visuals can easily mislead people and enhance false narratives.

Additionally, an old photograph of Wagner fighters in Ukraine has been shared alongside claims that the group is planning to send its fighters to Niger. However, there is no credible announcement to support these claims. It is crucial to be cautious when encountering such images, as they can be taken out of context and misused to spread misinformation.

One false claim that emerged following the coup is that the new military leaders have banned the export of uranium to France. While certain posts provide accurate figures about uranium exports from Niger to France and the European Union, there is no evidence to suggest that the junta issued a ban on such exports. The French company responsible for uranium mining in Niger, Orano Group, has confirmed that its operations have continued following the coup.

As European countries initiated the evacuation of their citizens, an unfounded claim started circulating suggesting that the junta ordered the army to detain Europeans. This claim alleges that the junta aimed to force Western countries to withdraw their forces from Niger. However, this claim is not supported by credible sources and seems to have originated from a pro-junta and anti-French group called the M62 movement. It is essential to verify the authenticity of such claims and rely on official statements rather than anonymous sources.

In regards to the speculations surrounding Algeria, some posts have suggested that Algeria would support Niger’s military government in the event of foreign intervention. However, this claim is not supported by Algerian news outlets, but rather by individual Twitter posts. Algeria has expressed its opposition to military intervention but has not explicitly stated its support for Niger’s coup leaders. Hence, it is important to distinguish between news outlets and individual accounts when interpreting geopolitical developments.

Overall, it is crucial to be vigilant and critical of the information that is being circulated online. Misinformation can exacerbate tensions and hinder efforts to resolve the crisis in Niger. By fact-checking claims, we can help foster a more informed and accurate understanding of the situation.