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US hints at support for Niger intervention

Niger crisis 2023 news

West African leaders are preparing military options to reinstate Niamey’s ousted government.

The US has said it backs efforts to restore Niger’s “constitutional order” in the wake of a military uprising last month, after countries in the region said they would activate troops for a possible armed intervention.

In a statement published on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington stands with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in calling on Niger’s military government to step down, stressing the need for political stability and “social cohesion.”

“We echo the ECOWAS condemnation of the illegal detention of President Mohamed Bazoum, his family, and members of the government, as well as the unacceptable conditions under which they are being held, and call for their immediate release,” the diplomat added, referring to Niger’s deposed head of state.

While Blinken added that US officials hoped ECOWAS would “explore all options for the peaceful resolution of the crisis,” his comments came just hours after the West African bloc said it would begin organizing military forces to restore Bazoum to power. The leader was overthrown last month by rebel military commanders, who have since placed him in detention and seized control of Niger’s government.

“No option is taken off the table, including the use of force as a last resort,” Nigerian President Bola Tinubu said earlier on Thursday, after hosting an ECOWAS meeting in Abuja. He added, “I hope that through our collective effort, we can bring about a peaceful resolution as a roadmap to restoring stability and democracy in Niger. All is not lost yet.”

Several of Niger’s neighbors have demanded the restoration of the former government, with Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara condemning Bazoum’s detention as a “terrorist act.” Officials in Nigeria and Senegal have echoed those comments.

Niamey’s new military government has defied ECOWAS demands to free the ousted president and step down, vowing to defend the country against any foreign attack. Some African states, including Mali and Burkina Faso, have aligned with the Niger junta, warning they would withdraw from the bloc and “adopt self-defense measures in support of the armed forces and the people of Niger” in the event of an intervention.

While it’s unclear when ECOWAS might be prepared to launch a military operation or what countries would participate, Western officials told the Associated Press that the Niger’s coup leaders threatened to kill Bazoum should the bloc send troops, potentially raising the stakes for any attempt to use force.

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Source:RT News

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