No sign of military intervention as ECOWAS deadline to Niger junta expires
West African bloc expected to grant one-week extension to junta
By Fatma Esma Arslan
DAKAR, Senegal (AA) - A deadline given by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to Niger’s military junta to reinstate the country’s president passed as of Monday, with no sign of military intervention by troops of the West African bloc.
A few hours before the deadline expired, the ruling National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country issued a statement announcing the closure of Niger's airspace until further notice due to a possible attack.
The statement also claimed that a foreign country was preparing an operation in Niger in cooperation with ECOWAS, and it was noted that ECOWAS had already deployed troops in two Central African countries.
The Wall Street Journal newspaper reported that ECOWAS needed more time for military operations.
“We need to strengthen our forces before participating in such a military operation. The success of any military operation depends on good preparation,” the newspaper cited a high-ranking commander from one of the ECOWAS member states as saying.
ECOWAS requires more time to prepare for military intervention, but during this process, the community will continue to exert pressure on Niger through economic sanctions and seek support from international institutions for broader trade embargoes, said the military official.
The West African bloc, which has not yet released an official statement regarding an extended deadline for the junta, is expected to grant a one-week extension.
The seven-day period given by ECOWAS to the military junta for the release of Nigerian President Mohamed Bazoum and his return to office expired at midnight local time on Sunday.
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 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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