ECOWAS defense chiefs to meet next week as possible Niger intervention looms

ECOWAS defense chiefs to meet next week as possible Niger intervention looms

West African bloc plans meeting next week, its spokesman tells Anadolu, following activation of standby ECOWAS force

By Olanrewaju Kola

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AA) — The defense chiefs of West African nations intend to meet next week to discuss whether to use force against Niger's military junta, which seized power in coup last month, an official told Anadolu on Friday.

"ECOWAS defense chiefs plan a meeting next week," said Amos Lungu, spokesman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), after the bloc activated a standby force for possible military action to restore Niger's ousted President Mohammed Bazoum.

The directive was issued by ECOWAS to its committee of defense chiefs at its second extraordinary summit in Nigeria's capital Abuja on Thursday.

The West African bloc said, however, that it would continue exploring diplomatic approaches to convince the coup leaders to return the country to constitutional government.

It also resolved to sustain sanctions against Niger until the coup leaders restored Bazoum. The US, France, and the majority of African nations have also expressed support for ECOWAS’s efforts in resolving the crisis.

Bazoum was ousted on July 26 in a military coup led by Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani, the former commander of Niger's presidential guard, and has reportedly been held hostage at the presidential palace in the capital Niamey.

Nigeria, also a member of ECOWAS and Niger's southern neighbor, also imposed sanctions, cutting off its supply of power to the country in a bid to apply pressure on the junta.

Nigeria supplies 70% of power to Niger.

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