Niger’s junta leaders join rally supporting military coup

Niger’s junta leaders join rally supporting military coup

Marchers express anger over sanctions and possible military intervention by ECOWAS bloc

By James Tasamba

KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) –Thousands of people in Niger waving Nigerien flags marched to the country’s main stadium in the capital Niamey on Sunday to show their support for the junta that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in a military coup last month.

Videos circulating on social media showed crowds cheering several members of the caretaker government calling itself the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country who were present in a defiant signal as the seven-day deadline given to the military by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to reinstate Bazoum expired.

The marchers expressed anger over possible military intervention by the ECOWAS bloc and sanctions.

Brig. Gen. Mohamed Toumba, one of the military leaders, in a speech denounced those he said “hide in the shadows plotting to foil Niger's efforts to move forward.”

On July 30 at an emergency meeting in Nigeria in the aftermath of the military coup, ECOWAS slapped heavy sanctions on Niger and ordered the military leaders to reinstate President Bazoum within one week ending Aug. 6 or it would “take all measures” including the “use of force” to restore constitutional order in Niger.

On Saturday, the bloc announced that West African defense chiefs had drawn up a plan for possible military intervention to restore democratic rule in Niger.

But the junta has said it would not bow to pressure to reinstate President Bazoum.

Bazoum was detained by members of the Presidential Guard on July 26, and that evening, the military announced that it had seized power.

Two days later, Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani, the commander of Niger's presidential guard, declared himself the head of a transitional government.

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