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Nigeria military leaders given ultimatum


At an emergency meeting held here on Sunday, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which groups 15 countries, agreed to impose sanctions on Niger’s military leaders involved in a recent coup.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, also chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, denounced the coup, saying the regional bloc “rejects coup and interruption to constitutional order.”

“As African leaders, it is our responsibility to foster stability and progress,” Tinubu said, noting that ECOWAS advocates collaborative efforts to ward off coups on the African continent.

The regional bloc said in a statement that the military junta in Niger must cede power in a week and immediately release and reinstate the country’s elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, or ECOWAS will take all necessary measures, including the use of force, to restore constitutional order in Niger.

Last year, ECOWAS’s leaders agreed to create a regional security force to intervene against rebel groups and prevent military coups. Niger is a member of ECOWAS.

ECOWAS’s leaders agreed to impose financial and travel sanctions on Niger’s military leaders involved in the coup, and also a no-fly zone over the country. They also decided to freeze Niger’s assets in the central and commercial banks of the ECOWAS countries.

Niger’s Defense and Security Forces said late Wednesday that soldiers in the country had overthrown Bazoum, hours after the president was allegedly held hostage.

Two days later, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, former leader of Niger’s presidential guard, was named “president of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland” and signed an order to suspend the Constitution and dissolve the government, empowering the council to exercise all legislative and executive authorities.

The United Nations Security Council on Friday strongly condemned the military coup, calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the president, and underscoring the need to protect him, his family and members of his government.

The African Union Peace and Security Council on Saturday demanded the Nigerien military restore constitutional authority within 15 days.

The EU on Saturday suspended financial support and security cooperation between the EU and Niger, saying that it does not recognize and will not recognize the authorities resulting from the putsch in Niger.

In Niger’s capital Niamey, thousands of protesters gathered outside the French embassy, with some trying to climb the walls of the embassy and others stomping on burning French flags.

Bazoum assumed office in 2021 after winning elections. Since gaining independence from France in 1960, Niger has witnessed four coups.

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