Niger’s junta closes country’s airspace

Niger’s junta closes country’s airspace

‘A foreign country is preparing to attack our country with ECOWAS cooperation,’ says spokesman

By Fatma Esma Arslan

DAKAR, Senegal (AA) - Niger’s junta announced Sunday that the country’s airspace has been closed until further notice in response to the possibility of military intervention from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

"A foreign country is preparing to attack our country with ECOWAS cooperation," said Colonel Amadou Abdramane, a spokesman for the ruling National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country, adding that any airspace violation would be met with a swift and strong response.

Abdramane highlighted that ECOWAS has deployed troops in two Central African countries as part of its military intervention preparations and emphasized that any intervening country would be considered a collaborator.

He called on Niger's youth to defend their country.

A seven-day deadline given by ECOWAS on July 30 for the military junta to release President Mohamed Bazoum and allow him to return to office expired before midnight local time.

ECOWAS had announced that it would consider all options, including military intervention, if their demands were not met within this timeframe.

The possibility of military intervention has drawn reactions from other military governments in West Africa.

Burkina Faso and Mali, where military personnel are in power, warned ECOWAS in a joint statement that military intervention in Niger would be considered an act of war against them, and Guinea declared its support for the junta.

Senegal, Ivory Coast, Benin and Nigeria declared their support for ECOWAS' military intervention.

Non-ECOWAS regional countries Algeria, Libya, Chad and Mauritania announced that they do not support ECOWAS' military operation.

- Nigeria closes its borders with Niger

Meanwhile, Nigeria announced that it has closed all its borders with Niger following the coup and unfolding events in the country.

The Deputy Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said in an announcement that Nigeria has closed its borders with Niger due to the coup and the developments in that country.

Bashir Adewale Adeniyi said this decision is in line with the directive from ECOWAS to suspend cargo movement until further notice.

He emphasized that the NCS will ensure full compliance of border communities with the decision and added that the measure was taken for the sake of peace and stability between the two countries.

Nigeria's President and ECOWAS Chairman Bola Ahmed Tinubu had ordered the closure of ECOWAS members’ borders with Niger.

On July 26, a group of soldiers calling themselves the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country delivered a statement on Nigerien state television shortly after detaining President Mohamed Bazoum, saying they took the step due to the "deteriorating security situation and bad governance."

Bazoum was elected in 2021 in Niger’s first democratic power transition since it gained independence from French colonial rule in 1960.

*Writing by Esra Tekin in Istanbul

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