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Supporters wave Nigerien flags as they rally in support of Nigers junta in front of the National Assembly in Niamey on July 30, 2023. — AFP
Supporters wave Nigerien flags as they rally in support of Niger’s junta in front of the National Assembly in Niamey on July 30, 2023. — AFP

After assuming power of the country, and confining elected President Mohamed Bazoum, the rulers of Niger warned countries against intervening in the internal matters of the country as reports emerged that a group of regional countries is thinking to move in and restore the ouster leader.

According to a statement, the regional body Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was preparing a “plan of aggression against Niger”.

No update from Ecowas has so far emerged but there was a huddle taking place in the Nigerian capital Abuja to discuss the regional situation after the military takeover.

Protestors stormed the French embassy in Naimey after Paris ceased security cooperation and stopped financial assistance to Niger.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said in a statement that his country would not tolerate any attack on its interests in Niger, and would respond in an “immediate and intractable manner”.

Nigers President Mohamed Bazoum attends a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the presidential palace in Niamey on May 2, 2022. — AFP
Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum attends a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the presidential palace in Niamey on May 2, 2022. — AFP

Gen Abdourahmane Tchiani — who was chief of the presidential guard and declared himself the leader — warned Ecowas and Western nations against intervening.

“We once again reiterate to Ecowas or any other adventurer our firm determination to defend our fatherland,” the statement, which was read out on TV said.

“Ecowas and the international community would do everything to defend democracy and ensure democratic governance continues to take firm root in the region,” said Bola Tinubu, president of Nigeria and ECOWAS chairman, in a statement Friday.

This grab image obtained from ORTN on July 28, 2023, shows General Abdourahamane Tchiani, Nigers new strongman, speaking on national television. — AFP
This grab image obtained from ORTN on July 28, 2023, shows General Abdourahamane Tchiani, Niger’s new strongman, speaking on national television. — AFP

The body has the power to impose sanctions on Niger, which is one of its 15 members.

Ahead of Sunday’s gathering, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Tinubu to convey his “deep concern” over the situation in Niger, and “underscored his support for President Tinubu’s continued efforts to restore constitutional order there.”

Niger’s neighbours Mali and Burkina Faso have both undergone two military coups since 2020, fuelled by anger at a failure to quash long-running insurgencies by jihadists linked to the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda.

Tiani said the putsch was a response to “the degradation of the security situation” linked to militants’ bloodshed as well as corruption and economic woes.

Restoration of government

After a wave of condemnation for the coup, punitive measures have already begun.

France — which has 1,500 soldiers in Niger — said Saturday it was suspending development aid and budgetary support to the West African nation, one of the world’s poorest countries.

It called for “an immediate return to constitutional order” and Bazoum’s reinstatement.

European Union diplomatic chief Josep Borrell meanwhile said the bloc would not recognise the putschists, and announced the indefinite suspension of security cooperation with Niger with immediate effect as well as budgetary aid.

Borrell said the EU was ready to support future decisions taken by Ecowas, “including the adoption of sanctions”, echoing a statement by France’s foreign minister.

The African Union has given the military two weeks to restore “constitutional authority”.

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