ECOWAS to hold another summit after Niger junta ignores ultimatum

ECOWAS to hold another summit after Niger junta ignores ultimatum

Leaders to discuss political situation, recent developments at Thursday summit, says statement

By James Tasamba

KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) - West African nations announced on Monday another emergency summit to address the political crisis in Niger after military leaders ignored an ultimatum to cede power.

More than a week ago, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) told the junta that overthrew Niger's Mohamed Bazoum to reinstate the deposed president within seven days — a period that ended Sunday — or face possible military intervention to restore constitutional order.

But on Sunday, the junta responded by closing the country's airspace as the deadline expired.

Nigeria's President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is also the chairman of ECOWAS, will convene the next meeting on Thursday in Nigeria's capital Abuja, according to a statement.

"ECOWAS leaders will be considering and discussing the political situation and recent developments in Niger during the summit," the statement said.

Analysts believe regional leaders need a unified position in seeking an immediate solution to prevent escalation that could potentially impact the entire West African region.

Nigeria, Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Benin have all expressed their willingness to send troops into Niger if ECOWAS endorses the decision to reinstate Bazoum, who has reportedly been held hostage.

But Niger's neighbors Burkina Faso and Mali, both run by military rulers, declared their strong backing for the junta that deposed Bazoum, splitting from the ECOWAS position.

Bazoum was detained by members of his presidential guard on July 26, who later that evening announced the government takeover.

Two days later, Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani, the guard's commander, had vowed not to give in to threats to revert the coup, declaring himself the head of a transitional government.

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