Niger’s military leaders has warned against any armed intervention in the country as West African leaders are set to gather in Nigeria’s capital for an emergency summit to decide on further actions to pressure the army to restore constitutional order.
The European Union (EU) has decided to cut off financial support to Niger following the military coup there and in a similar reaction.
On 27 July, Niger soldiers publicly announced a coup on national TV, declaring the dissolution of the constitution, suspension of institutions, and closure of borders.
President Mohamed Bazoum is being held by the presidential guard since the coup’s inception. Later General Abdourahamane Tchiani, the chief of Niger’s presidential guard, declared himself the head of a transitional government on Friday this week straight after his soldiers detained President Mohamed Bazoum on Wednesday.
The military coup in Niger has been widely condemned by its neighbours and international partners who have refused to recognise the new leaders and have demanded that Bazoum be restored to power
Josep Borrell, the head of the EU’s foreign policy, said in a statement on Saturday that “In addition to the immediate cessation of budget support, all cooperation actions in the domain of security are suspended indefinitely with immediate effect.”
The EU has set out 503 million euros ($554 million) from its budget, according to its website, to enhance Niger’s governance, education, and sustainable growth between 2021 and 2024, Al Jazeera reported.
Speaking of West Africa, Heads of state of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the eight-member West African Economic and Monetary Union could suspend Niger from its institutions, cut off the country from the regional central bank and financial market, and close borders.
Niger’s eastern neighbour Chad, a non-member of both regional organisations, has been invited to the ECOWAS summit, a statement from the Chadian president’s office said on Saturday.
The European Union and France have cut off financial support to Niger and the United States has threatened to do the same.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted, “I condemn in the strongest terms any effort to seize power by force and to undermine democratic governance, peace & stability in Niger. The @UN stands by the Government and the people of Niger.”
According to the World Bank, Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, receiving close to $2 billion a year in official development assistance.
Moreover, it is also a security partner of former colonial power France and the United States, which both use it as a base to fight an Islamist insurgency in West and Central Africa’s wider Sahel region. The US and former colonial power France view Niger as a crucial partner in addressing security issues in the region. Niger borders seven African nations, including Libya, Chad, and Nigeria.
The junta issued a second statement on Saturday night inviting citizens in the capital take to the streets from 7 a.m. local time (0600 GMT) to protest against ECOWAS and show support for the new military leaders.
Ahead of the Sunday summit, the military leaders in Niger warned in a statement read on Niger national television on Saturday night against any military intervention.
“The objective of the (ECOWAS) meeting is to approve a plan of aggression against Niger through an imminent military intervention in Niamey in collaboration with other African countries that are non-members of ECOWAS, and certain western countries,” junta spokesman Colonel Amadou Abdramane said.
“We want to once more remind ECOWAS or any other adventurer, of our firm determination to defend our homeland,” he said.