The body will also impose sanctions on the coup plotters

African Union suspends Niger

photo_camera REUTERS/TISSA NEGERI - African Union

More than a week after the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council meeting on the coup in Niger, the African body has decided to "immediately" suspend the country's participation "in all activities of the AU and its organs and institutions until the effective restoration of constitutional order in the nation".

The AU has also called on its 55 members, as well as the international community, to "reject this unconstitutional change of government and to refrain from any action that could grant legitimacy to the illegal regime in Niger". In the official statement issued, the African organisation urges the Niger military junta to prioritise "the supreme interests of Niger and its people above all else" and to "return immediately and unconditionally to the barracks and submit to the civilian authorities in accordance with the Constitution of Niger".

The AU Peace and Security Council, for its part, has called for an assessment of the decision by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to prepare a standby force for possible deployment in Niger and its "economic, social and security implications".

Since the coup against elected president Mohamed Bazoum, ECOWAS has relied on diplomacy to restore order in the country, but has warned that it will not hesitate to use force if diplomacy fails. The AU's Peace and Security Council rejected a possible military intervention in Niger, a source from the organisation told EFE news agency.

PHOTO/@PresidenceNiger - El presidente de N铆ger, Mohamed Bazoum
PHOTO/@PresidenceNiger - Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum

The Peace and Security Council has also asked the AU Commission to create a list of the country's new military coup leaders and their partners in order to "apply individual punitive measures", including those who have failed to respect the rights of President Bazoum and other detainees. These sanctions will join those issued earlier by ECOWAS, a move that is affecting Niger's civilian population in particular.

Regional pressure against the coup plotters and diplomatic efforts led to a meeting between an ECOWAS delegation and the new Niger authorities on Saturday. For the first time, the current leader of the military junta, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, was open to dialogue.

According to ECOWAS official Abdulsalami Abubakar, Nigeria's former military leader, the visit to Niamey was "very fruitful", which gives him hope for a peaceful solution to the crisis. "Nobody wants to go to war," Abubakar said. "They have made their own points. We will get somewhere, we hope," he added.

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