Niger Military dares ECOWAS as leaders warn coupists to reinstate Bazoum in 7 days or face our wrath
The Heads of State and Government of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have called for the immediate release and reinstatement of President Mohamed Bazoum as the legitimate Head of State and Government of the Republic of Niger.
But the Nigerien military leaders have warned the ECOWAS against interfering in their internal affairs.
Abdourahmane Tchiani, also known as Omar Tchiani, a General and the Chief of Niger’s Presidential Guard, declared himself leader while the country’s elected president is held by the military since the coup took place last week.
But in a communiqué at the end of the Extraordinary Summit on Socio-Political Situation in the Republic of Niger read Sunday by the President, ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Touray, the leaders rejected any form of purported resignation by President Bazoum and declared him as the only recognised and elected president by ECOWAS, the African Union and the international community.
“In this regard, only official acts of President Bazoum or his duly-mandated officials will be recognised by ECOWAS,” they said.
The leaders expressed strong condemnation of the attempted overthrow of constitutional order in Niger, and the illegal detention of Bazoum, as well as members of his family and government.
They demanded full restoration of constitutional order in the Republic of Niger and considered the illegal detention of Bazoum as a hostage situation, holding the authors of the attempted coup d’état solely and fully responsible for his safety and security and that of his family and government.
In the event, ECOWAS’ demands are not met within one week; the leaders said they would take all measures necessary to restore constitutional order in the country.
“Such measures may include the use of force for this effect, the Chiefs of Defence Staff of ECOWAS are to meet immediately,” the leaders said.
ECOWAS leaders also condemned the pronouncement of support by foreign governments and foreign private military contractors, while expressing appreciation to various governments and partners for their stance and solidarity.
What ECOWAS demands
The Summit hosted by President Bola Tinubu in his capacity as the Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, also agreed to appoint and dispatch a Special Representative to deliver the demands of the authority.
The Summit announced “immediate sanctions on Niger including the closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Niger, establishing a no-fly zone on all commercial flights to and from Niger, and suspending all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Niger.
Furthermore, assets of the Republic of Niger in ECOWAS Central Bank, Niger state enterprises, and parastatals in commercial banks will be frozen.
“Niger will also be suspended from all financial assistance and transactions with financial institutions within ECOWAS.”
President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, who read the communiqué, said the body called “for the immediate release and reinstatement of President Mohamed Bazoum as President and Head of State of the Republic of Niger and for the full restoration of constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.
“Rejects any form of resignation that may purportedly come from His Excellency, President Mohamed Bazoum; considered the illegal detention of President Bazoum as a hostage situation and hold the authors of the attempted coup that are solely and fully responsible for the safety and security of His Excellency President Mohammed Bazoum, as well as members of his family and government.
“In the event the authority’s demands are not met within one week, we shall take all measures necessary to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.
“Suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Asia, freeze all service transactions including energy transactions, freeze assets of the Republic of Niger in Aqua Central Bank, freeze of assets of the Niger state and the state enterprises and parastatals in commercial banks.
“Additionally, travel bans and freezing of assets were imposed on the military officials involved in the coup attempt, as well as their family members and civilians who accept to participate in any institution or government established by these military officials”.
In his closing remarks to the Summit, President Tinubu thanked fellow leaders, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson, the Special Representative of the Secretary -General and Head of the United Nations Office in West Africa and the Sahel, Leonardo Santos Simaõ, for their active engagement and invaluable contributions to the discussions.
“As we come close to this Extraordinary Summit on the socio- political situation in the Republic of Niger, I send my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you for your active engagement in our open and closed door meeting.
“Your invaluable contributions to our discussions have got us this far and hopefully, we will achieve our objective.
“The essence of African unity and solidarity is hereby reaffirmed. Our unwavering commitment to democracy, peace and prosperity is hereby resolved.
“Throughout our deliberations, we have recognised that the challenges faced by Niger are inter connected with broader issues affecting our region.
“As African leaders, it is our shared responsibility to foster stability and progress, placing the well-being of our people at the forefront of our endeavours, and working together towards their prosperity and happiness must always consistently, be our goals and consistently.
“We will stand with our people in freedom and our commitment to the rule of law and not the barrel of gun. Africa has come of age. We reject coup and interruption to constitutional order. Thank you for coming,” Tinubu further said.
Before the Summit, the President also held bilateral meetings with President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea Bissau, President Mahmat Idris Deby Itno of Chad, and Michael Health, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of African Affairs.
Presidents Patrice Talon of Benin Republic, Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire, Adama Barrow of The Gambia, Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, Embalo of Guinea Bissau, Macky Sall of Senegal, and Faure Gnassingbé of Togo, attended the Summit while the Presidents of Cape Verde, Liberia, Niger and Sierra Leone were represented.
Stay off, protesters, Nigerien military warn
And in strong counter, the Nigerien military warned the ECOWAS leaders to stay off the country’s internal affairs.
The military leaders, in a statement read on the country’s national television, warned against any military intervention from the ECOWAS nation.
“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,” Aljazeera quoted the military spokesperson, Colonel Amadou Abdramane, to have said Saturday night.
“We want to once more remind ECOWAS or any other adventurer of our firm determination to defend our homeland,” he said.
Also, in Niamey, thousands of protesters also gathered outside the French embassy, with some trying to enter the building, according to the AFP news agency.
Former colonial ruler France and the European Union have suspended security situation cooperation and financial aid to Niger following the coup.
Some demonstrators ripped off and stamped on a plaque bearing the words “Embassy of France in Niger”, replacing it with Nigerien and Russian flags, while others shouted “Long live Russia”, “Long live Putin” and “Down with France”, AFP reported.
Protesters also tried to climb the walls of the embassy, while others stomped on burning French flags.
“Anyone who attacks French nationals, the military, diplomats, or French interests will spur an immediate and uncompromising response from France,” French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said in a statement.
“Emmanuel Macron was able to speak again to Presidents Bazoum and previous Niger leader, Mahamadou Issoufou, in the last few hours, both of whom clearly condemned the coup and called for calm among the population,” the statement said.
Some taking part in the Sunday rally also warned regional bodies who have denounced the coup to stay away.
“I would like also to say to the European Union, African Union and ECOWAS, please stay out of our business,” said Oumar Barou Moussa, who was at the demonstration, according to the Reuters news agency.
“It’s time for us to take our lives, to work for ourselves. It’s time for us to talk about our freedom and liberty. We need to stay together, we need to work together, we need to have our true independence,” Barou said.