This article was last updated on August 2, 2023
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Military Coup in Niger Prompts Ecowas Meeting in Nigeria
In a bid to address the recent military coup in Niger, defense ministers from several West African countries are gathering in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. The ministers are demanding swift action to reinstate President Bazoum, who was democratically elected, before Saturday. If the army fails to comply, these countries may consider intervening militarily.
All participating countries are members of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas). Additionally, a meeting between the coup plotters and an Ecowas delegation is planned to take place in Niger today.
However, military leaders from Mali and Burkina Faso have declared their support for the coup plotters. They have warned that any foreign intervention would be seen as a declaration of war, and they would come to the aid of Niger in such a case. Similarly, the military leaders of Guinea are aligning themselves with the junta in Niger.
During a televised speech, General Tiani, the leader of the coup, announced the reopening of borders with most neighboring countries. However, the borders with Ecowas countries Benin and Nigeria in the south will remain closed.
Niger, a former French colony, has seen evacuations taking place. Last night, planes carrying evacuees from Niger landed in Paris and Rome. The majority of the passengers held French nationality, and no Dutch citizens were reported to be on board.
The Dutch ambassador to Niger expressed concerns about the situation in Niamey and stated that efforts were being made to assist Dutch citizens in leaving the country. The embassy remains in close contact with approximately 25 Dutch nationals and is preparing for various scenarios.
Regional Response and Concerns
Ecowas Meeting for Swift Resolution
The Ecowas meeting in Nigeria aims to address the military coup in Niger and find a swift resolution that restores President Bazoum to power. These West African countries are concerned about the impact the coup could have on the region’s stability and democratic principles.
Support and Opposition from Neighboring Countries
Military leaders from Mali and Burkina Faso have expressed support for the coup plotters in Niger. They warn against foreign intervention, emphasizing that it would be considered an act of war. On the other hand, the military leaders of Guinea also side with the junta in Niger.
Borders Reopening except with Ecowas Countries
According to General Tiani, the coup leader, borders with most neighboring countries have been reopened. However, the borders with Ecowas countries Benin and Nigeria in the south will remain closed. This decision by the coup leaders reflects tensions between Niger and its Ecowas counterparts.
International Support for Evacuations
French and Dutch Efforts
France and the Netherlands have been actively involved in evacuating their respective citizens from Niger. Planes have been arranged to transport French nationals to Paris, while Dutch citizens are receiving support from the Dutch embassy in Niger.
Monitoring and Providing Assistance
The Dutch ambassador to Niger assures that the situation is being closely monitored, and the embassy is working with international partners to ensure the safe departure of Dutch citizens. They are in constant communication with approximately 25 Dutch nationals, offering support and preparation for any potential developments.
As Ecowas countries convene in Nigeria to address the military coup in Niger, the region’s stability and democratic values are at stake. The participating defense ministers are urging the swift reinstatement of President Bazoum before proposed military intervention becomes necessary. Meanwhile, neighboring countries have taken sides, with Mali and Burkina Faso supporting the coup plotters, and Guinea aligning with the junta. Evacuations of foreign nationals are underway, with France and the Netherlands actively assisting their citizens in leaving Niger. The situation remains uncertain, and international efforts continue to mitigate the crisis.