Niger decided last week to “suspend” the transit of petroleum products destined for neighboring Mali. In a memo dated September 21, the General Directorate of Customs of Niger announced “the suspension of the issuance of transit authorizations for petroleum products granted to users” Malians. Products intended for the United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Mali (Minusma) are however exempt from this suspension, a added this note.
In addition, the text announced the “suspension” of authorizations “already issued” for the supply of petroleum products in Mali and which are not intended for the UN mission. “This suspension measure does not concern exports of refined petroleum products from Niger, which continue to be exported to Mali,” said Tidjani Idrissa Abdoulkadri, spokesman for the government of Niger, in a press release.
This decision was taken three days before the attacks by Mali’s interim Prime Minister, Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga, against Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum. At the UN platform, he notably accused the latter “of not being Nigerien”.
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According to Tidjani Idrissa Abdoulkadri, the suspension measure “has nothing to do” with these statements. “There is a chance timing coincidence that some have tried to interpret as some kind of measure of reprisals against the brotherly people of Mali. There is no correlation”, for his part explained the Minister of Finance of Niger, Ahmat Jidoud.
According to the spokesperson for the government of Niger, the Nigerien customs had granted authorizations in August to certain companies to transport petroleum products from Nigeria to certain neighboring countries such as Mali, via Niger. But these companies engaged in “fraudulent practices” by returning their products “exempt from taxes and customs duties” on the Nigerien market for which they were not intended, he justified.
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A customs source had also invoked “security” reasons. Deliveries of hydrocarbons intended for the Minusma will be “escorted to the border of Mali”, assured this source. In Niger and neighboring Burkina Faso, several sources often report hijackings of trucks transporting hydrocarbons by groups jihadists.