West African nations have imposed sanctions and warned of potential military action if Niger coup leaders do not reinstate ousted President Mohammed Bazoum within a week.
In response to the recent coup, the 15-nation ECOWAS bloc held an emergency summit in Nigeria, calling for the restoration of constitutional order and threatening measures, including the use of force, if their demands are not met.
The situation escalated further as supporters of the junta attacked the French embassy in Niamey, resulting in clashes with the police and damage to the embassy property.
ECOWAS and the West African Economic and Monetary Union announced the closure of borders with Niger, banned commercial flights, halted financial transactions, froze national assets, and ended aid to the country. Additionally, military officials involved in the coup would face travel bans and asset freezes.
The prime minister under Bazoum’s government expressed concern over the impact of the sanctions, emphasizing that Niger heavily relies on international partners for its budgetary needs and such measures could have catastrophic consequences.
The United States, along with regional leaders, welcomed ECOWAS’s action and called for the immediate release of President Bazoum and the restoration of the democratically-elected government.
However, some experts caution that previous instances of similar sanctions imposed on other West African nations like Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea have tended to hurt civilians more than the coup leaders, leading to defaults on debt and slow progress in restoring civilian rule.
Niger’s strategic importance in Western campaigns against insurgencies in the Sahel has drawn attention from international partners.
The coup has been widely condemned by various countries and organizations, and there are concerns about the potential for increased Russian influence in the region.
The coup has also triggered protests in Niger, with demonstrators expressing discontent against France’s interference in the country’s affairs. France, the European Union, and the United States have taken measures such as cutting off financial support to Niger.
Overall, the situation remains tense, with regional and international actors closely monitoring developments in Niger and calling for a return to constitutional order and civilian rule.