In a rapidly unfolding crisis, the leaders of a recent coup in Niger have closed the country's airspace, citing the threat of a possible military intervention by neighboring West African countries backed by external powers.
The crisis escalated as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) convened an emergency meeting to address the situation in Niger. ECOWAS declared that President Bazoum must be reinstated by Sunday, placing significant pressure on the junta that seized power. Failure to comply with this ultimatum may result in military action, an announcement that has fueled unrest in Niger's capital, Niamey.
Responding to the heightened tension, the military government of Niger announced the closure of the country's airspace, effectively cutting off external access. Citing the threat of a military invasion from neighboring countries, this decision showcases the junta's determination to safeguard its hold on power.
The junta's statement also included a stern warning aimed at any external force that might violate Niger's airspace, hinting at a formidable response. Additionally, the junta accused ECOWAS of covertly positioning its forces in undisclosed Central African countries as a prelude to intervention.
ECOWAS, a regional bloc comprised of 15 member states, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, and others, is set to hold a summit in the coming days to decide on the fate of President Bazoum and whether a military intervention is the necessary course of action.
Niger's capital has witnessed the arrival of new military reinforcements, intensifying speculation about the looming possibility of an armed confrontation. Reports confirm that about 40 pickup trucks carrying armed forces have entered Niamey, both as a show of strength to reassure the public and a preparation for a potential battle.
Surrounding countries, Mali and Burkina Faso, both led by military governments, have rallied in support of Niger's junta and cautioned against any foreign intervention. This unified stance underlines a growing trend of solidarity among neighboring nations experiencing similar political dynamics.
As the crisis continues to unfold, another twist emerged with accusations hurled at France. Niger's coup leaders claim that France, a former colonial power in the region, is covertly supporting the push for military intervention through alleged legal permissions granted by President Bazoum's officials.
Amidst growing uncertainty, analysts suggest that any potential military intervention by West African nations would likely focus on the border region shared with Nigeria, where tensions are at their highest.