The possible use of force against Niger's coup plotters has divided African countries

New ECOWAS summit for Niger


The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will organise a new extraordinary summit on Niger with the bloc's heads of state on Thursday, after its ultimatum for Niger's coup leaders to withdraw expired last midnight and with the possibility of military action on the table. 

"ECOWAS leaders will assess and discuss the political situation and recent developments in Niger," the bloc said in a statement on Monday. 

The meeting, to be held in Abuja, the Nigerian capital and headquarters of the organisation, has been convened by Niger's president and current ECOWAS leader, Bola Tinubu.

ORTN - Télé Sahel / AFP - Abdourahamane Tchiani
ORTN - Télé Sahel / AFP - Abdourahamane Tchiani

During the last extraordinary summit of ECOWAS leaders on Niger on 30 July, the bloc threatened the coup leaders with military intervention if they did not return power to the deposed president, Mohammed Bazoum. 

Since then, the possible use of force has divided African countries and even members of ECOWAS itself. 

So far, the governments of Nigeria, Benin, Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal have clearly confirmed the readiness of their armies to intervene on Nigerian territory. 

At the other extreme, Mali and Burkina Faso, countries close to Moscow and governed by military juntas, oppose the use of force and argue that any intervention in Niger would be tantamount to a declaration of war against them as well.

PHOTO/ORTN-TÉLÉ SAHEL/AFP - Esta imagen de captura de fotograma de vídeo obtenida por AFP de ORTN - Télé Sahel el 26 de julio de 2023 muestra al coronel mayor Amadou Abdramane (C), portavoz del Comité Nacional para la Salvación del Pueblo (CNSP) hablando durante una declaración televisada
PHOTO/ORTN-TÉLÉ SAHEL/AFP - This frame grab image obtained by AFP from ORTN - Télé Sahel on July 26, 2023 shows Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane (C), spokesman for the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) speaking during a televised statement

Guinea-Conakry, Algeria and Chad have also opposed intervention. 

For its part, Niger's coup junta, which has warned that any military action against Niger will be met with "an immediate and unannounced response" from the army, has reinforced its military apparatus and ordered the closure of airspace on Sunday.

The coup d'état in Niger was led on 26 July by the self-styled National Council for the Safeguarding of the Homeland (CLSP), which announced the removal of the president, the suspension of institutions, the closure of borders (which were later reopened) and a night-time curfew until further notice. 

Niger thus became the fourth West African country to be led by a military junta, after Mali, Guinea-Conakry and Burkina Faso, which also had coups between 2020 and 2022.