Niger coup: ECOWAS Leaders to meet on Thursday to determine next action

Niger coup: ECOWAS Leaders to meet on Thursday to determine next action
Niger Army spokesman Colonel Major Amadou Adramane speaks during an appearance on national television, after President Mohamed Bazoum was held in the presidential palace, in Niamey, Niger, July 26, 2023 in this still image taken from video. ORTN/via Reuters TV/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. NIGER OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NIGER

The leader of West Africa’s regional bloc on Monday said that they would meet on Thursday to discuss next steps after Niger’s military junta defied a deadline to reinstate the country’s ousted president. 

IdanNews gathered that the coup leader and its mutinous soldiers closed the country’s airspace and accused foreign powers of preparing an attack. 

The meeting was scheduled for Thursday in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, according to the spokesman for the ECOWAS bloc.

Meanwhile, In Niger, a state television reported the junta’s latest actions on Sunday night, hours before the deadline set by ECOWAS, which has warned of using military force if the democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum is not returned to power.

However,  the spokesman for the coup leaders, Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane, noted “the threat of intervention being prepared in a neighbouring country,” and said Niger’s airspace will be closed until further notice. Any attempt to fly over the country will be met with “an energetic and immediate response.”

The junta also claimed that two central African countries were preparing for an invasion, but did not name them. It called on Niger’s population to defend the nation. 

The United States said on Monday that it is still possible to put an end to the coup through diplomacy.

“It is still possible. We believe that the junta should withdraw and allow President (Mohamed) Bazoum to resume his duties”, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

The use of force is a solution of “last resort” for ECOWAS, said Matthew Miller, adding that the United States was “focused on finding a diplomatic solution.

The coup toppled Bazoum, whose ascendency was Niger’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence from France in 1960. The coup also raised questions about the future of the fight against extremism in Africa’s Sahel region, where Russia and Western countries have vied for influence.

International airlines have begun to divert flights around Niger, which the United States and others had seen as the last major counterterrorism partner in the Sahel, south of the Sahara Desert, where groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group are expanding their influence