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Niger Military Junta Refuses To Give In To Pressure, Calling Sanctions “Inhumane”

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The new military ruler of Niger said on Wednesday that the new self-proclaimed leadership will not give in to any demands to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum. The statement has deepened the rift between the military junta and ECOWAS which has threatened to take action against the military ruler.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has put immediate sanctions on Niger and threatened to use force if the new leadership did not restore democracy within a week from last Sunday.

Before taking any action against the new forced regime, the 15-member West African bloc sent a delegation to Niger on Wednesday to persuade and have talks with them and find a diplomatic solution to the situation.

Addressing on the national TV, military ruler Abdourahamane Tiani said, the junta “rejects these sanctions altogether and refuses to give into any threats, wherever they come from. We refuse any interference in the internal affairs of Niger”.

Following military coups in ECOWAS member nations Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea, as well as an attempted coup in Guinea-Bissau in the past two years, the organisation has fought to stop a democratic relapse in West Africa.

ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, said, “The military option is the very last option on the table, the last resort, but we have to prepare for the eventuality.” Talking to reporters he said, “There is a need to demonstrate that we cannot only bark but can bite,” on Wednesday, as defence chiefs from Sahel region began a two-day meeting in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

A Niger state utility document on Wednesday revealed that Nigeria had stopped supplying power to Niger, and border closures had left truckers stuck in Niamey. These were the first effects of the bloc’s broad sanctions, which Tiani referred to as “illegal, unjust, and inhumane.”

Last Wednesday, Tiani, the former commander of Bazoum’s presidential security, locked Bazoum inside his castle and then proclaimed himself the nation’s leader.

The 15-nation regional bloc has adopted its toughest stance on the coup yet, leading the junta-ruled countries of Mali and Burkina Faso to declare that any military intervention in Niger will be viewed as a declaration of war against them as well.

General Christopher Musa, the Chief of Defence and Chairman of the ECOWAS Defence Chiefs of Nigeria, said, “The task of restoring democratic governance in Niger is fraught with potential hurdles and complications.” “Our decisions will send a strong message about our commitment to democracy, our intolerance for unconstitutional changes of government, and our dedication to regional stability,” he said at the meeting in Abuja.

Foreign governments, concerned that the coup may allow the terrorists to gain foothold, have denounced it because Niger is a key ally of the West in the war against Islamist insurgents.

After meeting with Bola Tinubu, the president of Nigeria, on Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said, “The UK very much welcomes ECOWAS’ actions and (they) are indeed decisive actions with a strong commitment to democracy.”

The World Bank on Wednesday froze disbursements to Niger until further notice, adding to the growing pressure on the junta.

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