France has affirmed that it supports “with firmness and determination” the efforts of Ecowas to derail the attempted coup in Niger, on the eve of the end of the ultimatum of this West African bloc, which declares itself ready to intervene militarily. “The future of Niger and the stability of the entire region are at stake”, said French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna in a statement, who received the Prime Minister of Niger, Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou at the Quai d’Orsay, accompanied by the Nigerien Ambassador in Paris, Aichatou Boulama Kane. “The minister reaffirmed France’s full support for President Bazoum, elected by the Nigerien people, and for his government, which are the one and only legitimate authority in Niger,” the diplomat said. In view of the expiry of the ultimatum, Paris “solemnly requests those responsible for the coup attempt to release President Bazoum and all members of his government, and to allow the immediate restoration of constitutional and democratic order”, concludes the Note. According to diplomatic sources, cited by the AGI, France took away 1,000 people from Niger, including 500 non-French, “many of whom were Italians”.
Ecowas: “We do not reveal when we will strike”
Meanwhile, Ecowas will not tell the putschists “when and where we will strike”. This is an “operational decision that will be taken by the heads of state” of the bloc of countries belonging to the Economic Community of West African States, said Ecowas Commissioner for Political Affairs and Security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, speaking yesterday in Abuja in announcing that “all the elements of a possible intervention have been worked out” in a meeting of the bloc’s chiefs of staff, “including the necessary resources, but also how and when we will deploy the force”. Musah also assured that the West African bloc will continue to favor diplomatic means to resolve the crisis. The United States, on the other hand, “suspended some assistance programs” in favor of Niger, announced US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, underlining that US assistance to the West African country is linked “to democratic governance and respect for the ‘constitutional order’.
The coup in Niger
On July 30, four days after the coup, an extraordinary ECOWAS meeting called for “the immediate release and reinstatement of President Mohamed Bazoum as President and Head of State” and “the full restoration of constitutional order in the Republic of Niger “, as stated in the final communiqué of the summit. In the event that these demands “are not met within a week”, it added, the heads of state and government of the bloc had agreed to “take all necessary measures to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger. Such measures may include the use of force,” it added. The one-week ultimatum would expire tomorrow at midnight but, according to AFP, it is from Monday 7 August that, according to the “final communiqué” of the summit, the “use of force” against the Nigerien coup plotters would be possible at any time . General Abdourahamane Tchiani, head of the coup plotters, would in fact continue to snub the high-level ECOWAS delegation that had traveled to Niamey to avert the risk of a regional conflict. The junta that deposed the pro-Western president Mohamed Bazoum has cut two ties with its historical country of reference, France, canceling the military agreements and ordering the eviction from the ambassador in Paris. The regional bloc of the Economic Community of West African States, for its part, has announced that its Chiefs of Staff have defined the contours of an intervention.