The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will hold another emergency summit on the situation in Niger this Thursday after the Niger junta ignored the bloc’s deadline to reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum.
After the military took power in Niger, ECOWAS leaders held a summit and threatened military action if Bazoum was not reinstated by Sunday, August 6. The Niger junta has remained defiant in the face of ECOWAS sanctions and threats and closed its airspace in preparation for an attack.
“Niger’s armed forces and all our defense and security forces, backed by the unfailing support of our people, are ready to defend the integrity of our territory,” a Niger junta spokesman said Sunday as the deadline expired, according to Al Jazeera.
ECOWAS leaders will meet Thursday in the Nigerian capital of Abuja. Nigerian President Bola Tinubu has sought authorization to invade Niger from Nigeria’s Senate, but lawmakers have cautioned against the move and called on ECOWAS to first exhaust all diplomatic options.
ECOWAS is a 15-nation bloc but has suspended several members in recent years after military coups, including Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea, which have expressed support for the Niger junta. The ECOWAS statement threatening military action in Niger was signed by Benin, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Togo.
The ECOWAS threats and sanctions have been backed by the US and France, which both have a military presence in Niger. There are about 1,100 US troops and 1,500 French soldiers in the country.