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Niger coup plotters laugh off ECOWAS ultimatum

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The Economic Commission of West African States, ECOWAS, Authority of Heads of State and Government, on Sunday, in Abuja, issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Niger Republic military to release and reinstate President Mohammed Bazoum as the legitimate Head of State and government of the landlocked state.

But in a swift reaction, the Niger putschists rejected the call and warned ECOWAS against military intervention, saying, “We want to once more remind ECOWAS or any other adventurer of our firm determination to defend our homeland.”

ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government held an extraordinary meeting on Sunday at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja, to discuss the next line of action on the developments in Niger Republic.

Recognising Bazoum as the legitimate President, the bloc rehashed its earlier resolution to explore “all measures necessary” to restore democratic governance in Niger.

“Such measures may include the use of force. To this effect, the Chiefs of Defence Staff of ECOWAS are to meet immediately,” President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, said when he read a communique at the end of the Extraordinary Summit on the ‘Socio-Political Situation in the Republic of Niger.’

The PUNCH reported that members of the Nigerien Presidential Guard detained President Bazoum and later declared General Abdourahamane Tchiani as the nation’s new leader.

Tchiani, who has headed the Presidential Guard since 2011, said he was the new “President of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland.”

The military also issued a warning about “the consequences that will flow from any foreign military intervention,” saying, “Certain dignitaries…are in thinking of confrontation,” which “will end in nothing but the massacre of the Nigerien population and chaos.”

But reading the communique of ECOWAS leaders on Sunday, Touray said the bloc had resolved to recognise “only official acts of President Bazoum or his duly mandated officials, reject any form of resignation that may purportedly come from him and considered the illegal detention of President Bazoum, as a hostage situation.”

Aside from the seven-day ultimatum, the ECOWAS Authority at the Summit also imposed immediate sanctions on Niger, including the closure of land and air borders between member-states and Niger.

They also imposed a no-fly zone on the Niger Republic and suspended all commercial flights to and from Niger. They also suspended financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Niger.

Furthermore, assets of the Republic of Niger in the ECOWAS Central Bank, Niger state enterprises, and parastatals in commercial banks will be frozen.

Niger will also be suspended from all financial assistance and transactions with financial institutions within the ECOWAS.

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