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ECOWAS Deadline: West African leaders to discuss Niger as junta closes airspace, fails to restore ousted president

Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, Leader of Nigerien Junta

*Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani-led Nigerien junta has defied an ECOWAS deadline to restore the country’s democratically-elected but ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, stating attempt to fly over Niger will be met with ‘an energetic and immediate response’, as West African leaders meet to discuss Thursday, August 10, 2023

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

Sequel to the earlier deadline handed down to the African country’s junta that seized power from a democratically elected President, Niger’s mutinous soldiers have closed the country’s airspace and accused foreign powers of preparing an attack.

ConsumerConnect reports in relation to the development, West African leaders are expected to discuss Niger Thursday, August 10, 2022, after the junta that seized power in the country July 26.

The junta had defied a deadline to reinstate the ousted president or face the threat of military intervention, a Spokesman for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

It was learnt after expiration of the deadline to restore the ousted president, the military regime in the country said any attempt to fly over the country would be met with “an energetic and immediate response.”

Niger’s state television announced the move Sunday night, hours before a deadline set by West African regional bloc ECOWAS, which demanded the coup leaders to reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum or face military force.

Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane, a Spokesman for the coup leaders,  warned of “the threat of intervention being prepared in a neighbouring country.”

He said Niger’s airspace would be closed until further notice.

The junta asserted that two central African countries are preparing for an invasion, but did not say which ones, and called on the country’s population to defend it, agency report said.

It is recalled regional tensions have mounted since mutinous soldiers overthrew Niger’s democratically elected president nearly two weeks ago, detaining him and installing Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani as head of state.

Tchiani was head of the presidential guard, and is accused of leading the coup with several members of his unit.

Analysts say the coup is believed to have been triggered by a power struggle between him and the president, who was about to fire him.

It was not immediately clear what ECOWAS would do now that the deadline has passed, especially because the region is divided on a course of action.

ConsumerConnect reports the Nigerian Senate, in the National Assembly (NASS), Abuja, FCT, at the meeting turned down the the Federal Government’s plan to invade Niger with the military to restore democracy in the neighbouring country.

The Federal lawmakers rather blocked current ECOWAS Chairman President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s request for military intervention, urging him and the regional bloc to explore options other than the use of force.

ECOWAS can still move ahead, as final decisions are made by consensus by member states, according to report.

Regional countries Guinea, Burkina Faso and Mali, as well as Algeria, have come out against against the use of force, with Burkina Faso and Mali saying an attack on Niger “would be tantamount to a declaration of war” against them.

Senegal and Ivory Coast have both expressed support for ECOWAS’ efforts to restore constitutional order, and Senegal’s government said it would participate in a military operation if it went ahead.

Implications of recent military putsch in Niger

It is apparent that the Nigerien junta does not appear interested in negotiation, an ECOWAS delegation sent to Niger last week for talks was not allowed to leave the airport, and met only representatives of Tchiani.

It was gathered the junta leaders Sunday, August 6, 2023, appeared at a rally in the capital, Niamey, assuring the thousands of supporters present that their loyalty will not be betrayed.

Brig. Gen. Mohamed Toumba stated: “We are with you against them. We will give you the Niger that you are owed.”

The junta is exploiting anti-French sentiments among the population to shore up its support base and moving swiftly to cut ties with France, which French soldiers worked with the Nigerien military to fight extremist groups, while looking to other partners.

The junta also, suspended French broadcaster RFI and France 24 television from operating in the country and severed accords with France. French soldiers have been working with the Nigerien military to fight extremist groups.[do_widget id=heateor_sss_sharing-2]


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