As the deadline set by the West African group to hand over power or risk armed intervention drew nearer, pressure on the coup’s organizers in Niger increased on Sunday.
The military forces that overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26 were allowed one week to install him back in office by the ECOWAS bloc, which is headed by regional military juggernauts and Niger’s neighbor, Nigeria.
The latest of numerous coups that have rocked Africa’s Sahel area since 2020, the ECOWAS military chiefs of staff have decided on a strategy for a potential intervention in response to the situation.
“We want diplomacy to work, and we want this message to be transmitted to them (the military) that we are giving them every opportunity to reverse what they have done,” said ECOWAS commissioner Abdel-Fatau Musah on Friday.
But he issued a warning that, including the use of force and the timing of it, “all the elements that will go into any eventual intervention have been worked out.”
The military authorities of Niger have stated that they will respond with force.
The idea of an armed ECOWAS intervention is received with resistance in the dusty alleyways of Niamey’s Boukoki neighborhood.
“We’ll struggle to bring about this revolution. When confronted with the enemy, we won’t back down because we’re resolute, said Boukoki resident Adama Oumarou.
“We had been anticipating this coup for a while. We were relieved when it showed up,” she remarked.
An economic and military power on the continent, Algeria, which also has a long land border with Niger, has advised against using force to resolve the conflict.
Abdelmadjid Tebboune, the president of Algeria, said in a television interview on Saturday night that his country “categorically rejects any military intervention” and added that such a move would pose “a direct threat to Algeria.”
“Algeria shares nearly a thousand kilometers” of the border with Niger, he said.
He asked, pointing to Libya and Syria, “What is the situation today in countries that have undergone military intervention?”
France supports ECOWAS’s action after the deadline expired, breaking military ties with Niger’s new rulers.
Niger is crucial in Western combating jihadist insurgencies since 2012, with France and the US stationing troops.