Ousted Niger Leader calls for Help as Junta Warns Against Intervention - 9japarrot


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Friday 4 August 2023

Ousted Niger Leader calls for Help as Junta Warns Against Intervention


By Nurat Uthman

Niger’s junta threatened an immediate response to “any aggression” as a deadline given by its neighbours to reverse last week’s coup neared, while the country’s ousted leader called for international help to “restore our constitutional order”.

The putschists also made diplomatic swipes against international condemnation of the coup, scrapping military pacts with France and pulling ambassadors from Paris and Washington, as well as from Togo and Nigeria.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has given the junta until Sunday to reinstate democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum — who was toppled by his guard on July 26 — or risk a possible armed intervention.

Regional military chiefs are in Nigeria’s capital Abuja to discuss the possibility of such an intervention, but Nigerian President Bola Tinubu on Thursday told the bloc’s delegations to do “whatever it takes” to reach an “amicable resolution”.

Niger’s junta warned it would meet force with force.

“Any aggression or attempted aggression against the State of Niger will see an immediate and unannounced response from the Niger Defence and Security Forces on one of (the bloc’s) members,” one of the putschists said in a statement read on national television late Thursday.

This came with “the exception of suspended friendly countries”, an allusion to Burkina Faso and Mali, neighbouring countries that have also fallen to military coups in recent years.

Those countries’ juntas have warned any military intervention in Niger would be tantamount to a “declaration of war” against them.

Nigeria, West Africa’s pre-eminent military and economic power, is the current ECOWAS chair and has vowed a firm line against coups.

The bloc has already imposed trade and financial sanctions on Niger.

Senegal said it would send soldiers to join ECOWAS if it decided to intervene militarily.

“It is one coup too many,” said Foreign Minister Aissata Tall Sall.

An ECOWAS delegation headed by ex-Nigeria leader Abdulsalami Abubakar arrived in Niamey on Thursday, according to an airport source, and was due to meet the junta leaders later.

Bazoum, who has been held by the coup plotters with his family since his ouster, said Thursday that if the putsch proved successful, “it will have devastating consequences for our country, our region and the entire world”.

In a column in The Washington Post — his first lengthy statement since his detention began — he called on “the US government and the entire international community to help us restore our constitutional order”.

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