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Thu, Aug 3, 2023 12:10 AM

Military Leaders of ECOWAS Countries Discuss Intervention in Niger

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Military Leaders of ECOWAS Countries Discuss Intervention in Niger
Military leaders from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are holding a meeting in Abuja, Nigeria on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing political crisis in Niger. ECOWAS has threatened military intervention to restore constitutional order in the country, while other countries such as Italy, Russia, and the United States have also voiced their positions. France expects the completion of the evacuation of its civilians today.

Military leaders from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are holding an emergency meeting in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing political turmoil in Niger. The organization, which has threatened military intervention to impose the return of constitutional rule in Niger, is expected to send a delegation to the country later.

ECOWAS had previously announced its readiness to impose the return of ousted President Bazoum, even if it required military intervention, and gave the coup leaders a week to return to their barracks.

The United Nations Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel, Leonard Santo Simao, has stated that several ECOWAS member states are preparing to use force in Niger if necessary. However, Simao emphasized that everyone prioritizes peaceful efforts to resolve the issue.

Niger's ambassador to the United States, Kairy Liman Teguiri, said there is a unified international and African position calling for an end to the coup attempt and the release of the president.

Ambassador Teguiri confirmed, in an interview with Al Jazeera, that there are ongoing diplomatic efforts to return the military to their barracks and restore legitimacy.

However, the ruling military councils in Burkina Faso and Mali expressed their support for the coup leaders, stating that any external intervention to restore the deposed government would be considered a declaration of war.

This statement from Mali and Burkina Faso indicates that a new alliance may be formed against the other 15 countries in the bloc.

Meanwhile, Reuters quotes Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Taiani as saying that "any Western military intervention in Niger must be avoided."

Taiani added, in a television interview, that any Western military intervention in Niger must be ruled out because it would be a "new kind of colonization." He added, "We must work to ensure that diplomacy prevails in Niger and democracy is restored."

For his part, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed his country's continued and steadfast support for Niger and its democracy.

Blinken tweeted on Tuesday, "I spoke with President Bazoum and reaffirmed our continued, steadfast support for an elected and democratic president in Niger, the rule of law, and democratic governance."

The US State Department, in a statement, confirmed its continued support for President Bazoum and democracy in the country.

Blinken emphasized, according to his country's foreign ministry, that the United States rejects efforts to overturn the constitutional order and stands with the people of Niger, ECOWAS, the African Union, and international partners in supporting democratic governance, respect for the rule of law, and human rights.

Dmitry Polyansky, Russia's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations Security Council, said his country had no relation to the coup in Niger, according to him.

This came in response to a question about whether Russia contributed to this coup. Polyansky affirmed that the presence of Russian flags at the protests in Niger is not surprising because Russia's methods are popular worldwide, according to him.

In a related development, Niger announced last night that it has reopened its borders with several neighboring countries after a week of the coup.

"We have reopened the land and air borders with Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Libya, and Chad as of today, August 1, 2023," said the spokesman for the military council, Colonel Amadou Abdul Rahman.

The military council had closed the borders last Wednesday, at the same time it announced the deposition of President Bazoum.

Meanwhile, France has announced that it will complete the evacuation of its civilian nationals who wish to leave Niger today.

According to the French Foreign Ministry, 600 French citizens out of 1,200 registered with the consular authorities in Niamey expressed their desire to leave and return to their country.

France has initially allocated four planes for the evacuation of civilians, the majority of whom are its nationals, in the first large-scale evacuation operation it has carried out in the Sahel region, where military coups have increased since 2020.

Paris justified the decision to evacuate with "the acts of violence suffered by our embassy (last Sunday) and the closure of the airspace, which deprives our nationals of any means of leaving the country on their own."

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna announced that one of the planes carried 262 people, "including 12 infants," explaining that the majority of them are French, in addition to "some European citizens."

The French Foreign Ministry also indicated that the plane also transported Lebanese, Nigerians, Portuguese, Belgians, and Ethiopians.

Earlier, the German government advised its citizens in the Nigerien capital to leave.

Journalists reported the arrival of an Italian military plane in Rome carrying 87 people who were evacuated from Niger earlier today.

On board the aircraft were 36 Italians, 21 Americans, 4 Bulgarians, Australians, a Briton, Nigerien, Hungarian, Senegalese, and Nigerian, in addition to military personnel.

In the same context, the White House announced that the United States has not yet made any evacuation decisions.

Source of content: OOO News 2023-08-02 News

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