June 13, 2024

Following the recent coup in Niger, the situation has escalated, and the regional bloc ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) has taken a firm stand against the coup leaders. Leaders of ECOWAS gathered in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, to address the coup and have decided to impose sanctions on Niger. They have also threatened potential military intervention if President Mohamed Bazoum is not reinstated within a seven-day period. ECOWAS has emphasized its “zero tolerance” for coups and is determined to take all necessary actions to restore constitutional order in Niger.

Leonardo Santos Simao, the special representative and head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, expressed concern about the coup’s impact on Niger’s role in fighting terrorism in the region. ECOWAS aims to prevent further destabilization and the potential expansion of terrorist activities in the area.

Notably, this is the first time ECOWAS has threatened military action to reverse a coup in the region. However, in the past, the bloc has used sanctions and military intervention, as seen during the political crisis in The Gambia in 2017. Additionally, Chad’s President Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno visited Niger to urge the junta to step down, further highlighting regional concern over the coup.

In response to the coup, ECOWAS has imposed a no-fly zone over Niger for all commercial flights, closed all land borders with the country, and implemented financial sanctions against the junta. The coup has raised apprehension that Niger may align with Russia, similar to the direction Burkina Faso and Mali took after their own coups. Some protesters outside the French embassy in Niamey expressed support for Russia and expressed anti-French sentiments. France, being a former colonial power in Niger, has firmly stated its response to any attack on its interests in the country.

The situation remains tense, and the actions of both the junta and ECOWAS in the coming days will determine how events unfold. ECOWAS’s use of military force as a threat indicates the seriousness of the situation and the bloc’s commitment to upholding democratic principles in the region.

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