Niger Coup: Junta defies ECOWAS, closes Niger Airspace as deadline expires

Niger’s military junta disclosed its decision to close the nation’s airspace, as it anticipates ECOWAS threat hinting at a potential military intervention should President Mohamed Bazoum not be released and reinstated.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had extended a deadline until Sunday, urging the coup leaders to reverse their seizure of power and reinstate Bazoum’s presidency. As the clock ticked down on this ultimatum, the junta orchestrated grand displays of support in Niamey, the capital, in the days leading up to its expiration.

In a sign of solidarity with Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, countries that have themselves experienced recent military takeovers, have jointly dispatched an official delegation. This demonstration of unity is set to unfold on Monday.

Anticipation now mounts for the awaited response from the regional bloc, as observers and stakeholders await a statement from ECOWAS in the wake of this escalating situation.

The junta announced the suspension of the nation’s airspace, effective from Sunday onward, declaring the move as a response to the “impending intervention threat.” The ruling council, known as the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland, cautioned that any unauthorized breach of the airspace would be met with a prompt and robust countermeasure.

The council, led by a group of generals who have assumed control, expressed concerns about perceived preparations for intervention by unspecified Central African nations. While refraining from disclosing the specific countries involved, the council signaled its vigilance regarding indications of “pre-deployment in readiness for intervention.”

It warned that “any state involved will be considered co-belligerent.”

ECOWAS defense chiefs had on July 30 said they had agreed to intervene if its demands were not met within one week.

-Jesse Voyamba