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Amid Military Coup In Niger, ECOWAS Plans Extraordinary Summit In Abuja On Sunday

By Paul Ejime

ECOWAS leaders are to hold an emergency summit in Abuja, Nigeria on Sunday to discuss the political and security situation in Niger following the military coup that toppled the government of President Mohamed Bazoum on Wednesday.

Brig.-Gen Tiani Abdourahamane, Head of the Presidential Guard appeared on national television on Friday as leader of the new ruling military National Council.

The armed forces have pledged support to the coup leaders.

Niger borders have been closed, national institutions including the Parliament suspended, and public demonstrations are banned.

A group of military officers had announced on Wednesday that President Bazoum had been removed.

They accused him of corrupt leadership and failure to end insecurity in Niger, considered one of the poorest countries in the World despite its rich natural resource.

The Niger coup, the seventh in West and Central Africa following the military takeover in neighbouring Mali in 2020, has been widely condemned internationally, including by the U.S. EU, ECOWAS and France, the former colonial power in Niger.

Nigeria’s President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, who had warned against unconstitutional change of governments after assuming the Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in early July, is reported to have dispatched delegations to mediate in the Niger leadership crisis.

In its second statement in as many days condemning the Niger coup in the strongest terms, the ECOWAS Commission has also demanded the unconditional release of Bazoum detained by the putschists.

Faced with grave socio-economic challenges and the baggage of corrupt and poor leaderships, and three of its member States – Mali, Guinea Conakry, and Burkina – under military rule, ECOWAS is running out of effective options to arrest the regression of democracy in the region of more than 400 million people.

Will the Niger coup makers be forced out without harm to those they are now holding as bargaining chops, or can the stalemate be resolved diplomatically?

Embattled President Bazoum and his predecessor, former President Mahamadou Issoufou, who literally anointed him in 2021, are close allies of the West.

France relocated its troops to Niger after they were sacked by the Col. Assimi Goita-led military regime in Mali.

America and some Western countries also have troops in the Sahel region, including Niger, where they are helping to fight terrorism and Islamic Jihadist insurrection.

Did Bazoum, who is considered to be of Arab extraction annoy Paris, or did he step on the toes of any of his powerful allies?

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