In Niger, thousands of supporters of Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani and the July 26 coup to remove President Mohamed Bazoum turned out at a Niamey stadium on Sunday, as time ran out on a deadline imposed by the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for the release of Bazoum and reinstatement of Niger’s government.
Late Sunday, coup leaders announced two ECOWAS nations had military forces headed toward the Nigerien border, and that ECOWAS was advancing its plans for an invasion of Niger.
The seven-day window was imposed following an ECOWAS emergency meeting in Nigeria on July 30. African heads of state and their representatives, joined by African Union Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat, said they considered Bazoum’s detention to be a hostage situation and planned to “take all measures necessary to restore constitutional order” in Niger.
The views were consistent with Bazoum’s appeal for help, published in the Washington Post on Thursday, in which he said Niger was under attack by the Tchiani-led junta and was illegally imprisoned.
“In Africa’s troubled Sahel region, Niger stands as the last bastion of respect for human rights amid the authoritarian movements that have overtaken some of our neighbors. While this coup attempt is a tragedy for Nigeriens, its success would have devastating consequences far beyond our borders,” said Bazoum.
“With an open invitation from the coup plotters and their regional allies, the entire central Sahel region could fall to Russian influence via the Wagner Group, whose brutal terrorism has been on full display in Ukraine.”
Bazoum also warned of the regional spread of terrorism due to the increased instability.
France, the United States, and other nations have condemned the coup in Niger.
Image: Government of Niger