Coupists In Niger Seeks Help From Russia As ECOWAS Threaten Military Action

The situation in Niger is escalating as the coupists have sought assistance from Russia, while the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) contemplates military action.
The regional body, backed by Western countries and the United Nations, has issued a seven-day ultimatum to the military junta to reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum as the democratically elected leader or face severe sanctions.
ECOWAS has called for an emergency meeting of all Chiefs of Defence Staff to strategize on potential military operations to restore constitutional order.
General Abdourahmane Tchiani, also known as Omar Tchiani, and the chief of Niger’s presidential guard, has declared himself as the leader, while President Bazoum remains in military custody since the coup last week.
The African Union (AU) has also given the soldiers 15 days to return to their barracks and restore civilian rule in the country on Saturday.
 However, the military leaders in Niger have warned ECOWAS against sending troops to the country in a recent statement aired on national television.
The military coup in Niger has drawn widespread condemnation from neighboring countries and international partners, including the United States, the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, and France, Niger’s former colonial power.
In response, ECOWAS has implemented immediate sanctions on Niger, including the closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Niger. A no-fly zone on all commercial flights to and from Niger has also been established. Additionally, all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS member states and Niger have been suspended.
During the Extraordinary Summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS on the Socio-Political Situation in the Republic of Niger, which was hosted by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, ECOWAS declared President Bazoum as the only recognized and elected president by ECOWAS, the African Union, and the international community.
Please note that the situation is continuously developing, and we will provide updates as more information becomes available.
“In this regard, only official acts of President Bazoum or his duly-mandated officials will be recognized by ECOWAS,” the commission said.
The leaders condemned what they called the illegal detention of President Bazoum and members of his family and government.
They demanded the full restoration of constitutional order in the Republic of Niger and considered the illegal detention of President Bazoum as a hostage situation, holding the authors of the attempted coup d’état solely and fully responsible for his safety and security and that of his family and government.
In the event ECOWAS’ demands are not met within one week, the leaders said they would take all measures necessary to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.
“Such measures may include the use of force. For this effect, the Chiefs of Defence Staff of ECOWAS are to meet immediately,” the leaders said.
ECOWAS leaders also condemned the pronouncement of support by foreign governments and foreign private military contractors, while expressing appreciation to various governments and partners for their stance and solidarity.
The summit also agreed to appoint and dispatch a special representative to deliver the demands of the authority.
Furthermore, assets of the Republic of Niger in ECOWAS Central Bank, Niger state enterprises, and parastatals in commercial banks will be frozen.
Niger will also be suspended from all financial assistance and transactions with financial institutions within ECOWAS.
Additionally, travel bans and asset freezes were imposed on the military officials involved in the coup attempt, as well as their family members and civilians who agreed to participate in any institution or government established by the military officials.
In his closing remarks to the summit, President Tinubu thanked fellow leaders, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson; the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office in West Africa and the Sahel, Leonardo Santos Simaõ, for their active engagement and invaluable contributions to the discussions.
“Your invaluable contributions to our discussions have got us this far and hopefully, we will achieve our objective.
“The essence of African unity and solidarity is hereby reaffirmed. Our unwavering commitment to democracy, peace and prosperity is hereby resolved.
“Throughout our deliberations, we have recognized that the challenges faced by Niger are interconnected with broader issues affecting our region.
“As African leaders, it is our shared responsibility to foster stability and progress, placing the wellbeing of our people at the forefront of our endeavours, and working together towards their prosperity and happiness must always consistently be our goals.
“We will stand with our people in freedom and our commitment to the rule of law and not the barrel of gun. Africa has come of age.
“We reject coup and interruption to constitutional order. Thank you for coming,” he said.
Before the summit, the president also held bilateral meetings with President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea Bissau, President Mahmat Iddris Deby Itno of Chad, and Michael Health, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of African Affairs.
Presidents Patrice Talon of Benin Republic, Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire, Adama Barrow of The Gambia, Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, Embalo of Guinea Bissau, Macky Sall of Senegal, Faure Gnassingbé of Togo attended the summit while the presidents of Cape Verde, Liberia, Niger and Sierra Leone were represented.
Leaders Of Niger Coup Caution ECOWAS, Seek Russia Assistance
However, military leaders of the Niger Republic cautioned ECOWAS not to send soldiers to their country, claiming that it would be an attempt to start a war against Niger. The statement was read on Niger national television.
“The objective of the ECOWAS meeting is to approve a plan of aggression against Niger through an imminent military intervention in Niamey in collaboration with other African countries that are non-members of ECOWAS, and certain Western countries,” Aljazeera quoted the military spokesman, Colonel Amadou Abduramane, to have said.
Abduramane called on Russia to help Niger with soldiers and equipment.
He said they were ready to defend their country from the attacks that he suspected ECOWAS would launch on the country.
He also called on the citizens to come out and hold a demonstration to support them.
Russia has troops in Mali, a neighbour of Niger, which has caused France and the United Nations to withdraw their peacekeeping troops from the country.
Russia’s Wagner mercenary boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who remains active despite leading a failed mutiny against the Russian army’s top brass last month, has hailed the coup as good news and offered his fighters’ services to bring order.
Niger has been a security partner of France, and the United States, which have used it as a base to fight an Islamist insurgency in West and Central Africa’s wider Sahel region.
Crowd sets fire to the French embassy
Yesterday, a throng assembled in front of the French Embassy in Niamey, the capital of Niger, and stoned and burned French flags, prompting tear gas from the police.
France swiftly denounced the violence against its diplomatic presence and vowed to aggressively respond to any assault on its citizens or interests.
“The president will not tolerate any attack against France and its interests,” President Emmanuel Macron’s office said in a statement, specifying that it would respond to attacks against French diplomats, armed forces or businesses.
In a separate statement, the Foreign Affairs ministry condemned all violence against diplomatic missions and called on Nigerien authorities to protect the French mission as required under international law.
Macron has spoken with ousted President Bazoum and a former president of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou in the last few hours, the statement from the president’s office said, adding that both of them condemned the coup and called for calm.
Ada Peter
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