The leaders of West African countries, gathered in Abuja for a “special summit” on Sunday, have given a one-week ultimatum to the coup leaders in Niger to restore constitutional order, stating that they do not exclude the “use of force”.
The “immediate” suspension of “all commercial and financial transactions” was also decided at this summit. Following this, Chadian transitional president Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno arrived in Niamey to “see what he can contribute to resolving the crisis.”
The pressure is increasing on the coup leaders in Niger every day. The leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), gathered on Sunday, July 30, in the capital of neighboring Nigeria for an emergency summit following the military coup in Niger, have given a one-week ultimatum to the coup leaders to restore constitutional order, stating that they do not exclude the “use of force”.
Additionally, ECOWAS has decided on financial sanctions, including the suspension of “all commercial and financial transactions” between its member states and Niger, as well as “freezing the assets of military officials involved in the coup attempt,” according to the resolutions read at the end of this extraordinary summit chaired by Nigerian President Bola Tinubu.
ECOWAS has also called for the “immediate release” of President Bazoum and the “complete return to constitutional order in the Republic of Niger”. If these demands are not “satisfied within one week,” ECOWAS will “take all necessary measures,” and “these measures may include the use of force,” according to these resolutions. “The heads of defense staff” of ECOWAS countries “must meet immediately,” it is specified.
Risk of isolation
At the opening of the summit, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who heads ECOWAS, denounced the “hostage-taking” of Nigerien President Bazoum by the coup leaders and the “assault” on democracy. “It is no longer time for us to send alarm signals,” he declared, “it is time for action.”
ECOWAS member countries were represented by their leaders or representatives, with the exception of Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso – suspended since they too have been led by military coup leaders. The leader of Chad, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, whose country is not a member of ECOWAS but is a neighboring country to Niger and also a military power in the Sahel allied with France, was invited and participated in this summit.
He then traveled to Niamey to “see what he can contribute to resolving the crisis” in Niger, announced the Chadian government spokesperson Aziz Mahamat Saleh to AFP. “This is a Chadian initiative,” and Mahamat Déby Itno “does not have a special mandate from ECOWAS,” the government spokesperson clarified.
Protests in Niamey
The Nigerien coup leaders, led by General Abdourahamane Tiani, appointed “president of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Nation (CNSP),” have already warned of “the consequences that will result from any foreign military intervention,” citing the “belligerent attitude” of “former dignitaries holed up in chancelleries in collaboration with the latter.”
Thousands of protesters gathered on Sunday outside the French embassy in Niamey, with some insisting on entering, during a rally in support of the military coup leaders at the National Assembly. French President Emmanuel Macron has made it known that he “will not tolerate any attack against France and its interests.”
French President Emmanuel Macron was able to speak again with President Mohamed Bazoum and his predecessor Mahamadou Issoufou on Sunday morning. They both clearly condemned the coup and called for calm among the population, according to the Élysée.
Mahamadou Issoufou also announced on Sunday on Twitter, renamed “X,” that he intends to “continue” his efforts to try to find a “negotiated solution to the crisis” in order to “free” Mohamed Bazoum. The former president also called for “refraining from any violence.”
Since July 26, our country has entered a difficult phase in its history. Faced with the serious situation it is experiencing, I have been working through various channels to find a negotiated way out of the crisis, including the liberation of President Mohamed Bazoum 1/4
Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world and receives nearly $2 billion in annual official development assistance, according to the World Bank. It is also a security partner of France and the United States, both of which use it as a base to combat Islamist insurgency in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa.
After Mali and Burkina Faso, Niger, previously allied with Western countries, has become the third Sahelian country, plagued by attacks from groups linked to ISIS and Al-Qaeda, to experience a coup since 2020.