Pressure on the leaders of the coup in Niger increased on Saturday, just one day before the deadline set by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for the military to relinquish control or face potential armed intervention.
France, the former colonial power with which the junta cut military ties shortly after seizing power, stated its firm backing for any action taken by the ECOWAS bloc once the Sunday deadline passes.
During the talks, military chiefs from ECOWAS worked out a plan for a possible intervention to address the crisis, which is the latest in a series of coups affecting the Sahel region of Africa since 2020. ECOWAS commissioner Abdel-Fatau Musah announced that all elements for a potential intervention have been finalized, including the necessary resources and the strategy for deploying the force.
The bloc’s main intention is to resolve the situation through diplomatic means, giving the junta every opportunity to reverse their actions. The stability of Niger and the entire region is at risk, according to France, as the tension escalates in one of the world’s poorest countries.
Niger has played a crucial role in Western efforts to combat the jihadist insurgency that has plagued the Sahel since 2012. France and the United States have stationed troops in the country (around 1,500 and 1,000 respectively).
However, anti-French sentiment is on the rise in the region, while Russian influence, often through the Wagner mercenary group, is increasing. Russia has warned against any external armed intervention.
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