John Doe
Thu, Aug 10, 2023 1:45 PM

Niger Junta Names New Government Ahead of Regional Summit

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Niger Junta Names New Government Ahead of Regional Summit
Niger's junta has announced a new government, defying calls from regional leaders to end their military takeover. The decision comes ahead of a summit in Nigeria where West African heads of state will discuss a plan of action for Niger. The junta has ignored deadlines and offers of diplomacy to reinstate the ousted president. The next steps discussed at the summit may include military intervention. This political crisis threatens to further destabilize the already vulnerable Sahel region.

NIAMEY/ABUJA (Reuters) - Niger's junta named a new government overnight, forcing its agenda before a summit on Thursday of regional leaders who have demanded that they end their military takeover.

West African heads of state meeting in Nigeria later on Thursday aim to agree on a plan of action for Niger, where coup leaders have refused to stand down despite the bloc's threat that it could use force to restore democracy.

Since the July 26 power grab shocked the region, the defiant junta has rebuffed diplomatic overtures and ignored an Aug. 6 deadline from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to reinstate ousted president Mohamed Bazoum.

Mahamane Roufai Laouali, cited as "Secretary General of the Government", read out 21 names on television without specifying any further plans. Three coup leaders have been named ministers of defence, interior, and sports in the government, which is about half the size of the previous one.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres voiced concern about Bazoum and his family after his party reported that they were being detained at the presidential residence without electricity or running water and had gone days without fresh food.

"The Secretary-General... once again calls for his immediate, unconditional release and his reinstatement as Head of State," a U.N. spokesperson said on Wednesday.

The meeting in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, could prove a pivotal moment in the standoff. The bloc's leaders are expected to agree on next steps, which could include military intervention - something an ECOWAS official has said would be a last resort.

Envoys of the Nigerian president, and ECOWAS chair, Bola Tinubu met coup leaders in the capital, Niamey, on Wednesday, offering a glimmer of hope for dialogue after previous missions were spurned.

Any escalation would further destabilize West Africa's Sahel region, one of the world's poorest, where a long-running Islamist insurgency has displaced millions and stoked a hunger crisis.

The coup was triggered by internal politics but has evolved into an international entanglement, with ECOWAS, the United Nations, and Western countries putting pressure on the junta to stand down, while military governments in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso have vowed to defend it.

Source of content: OOO News 2023-08-10 News

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