ECOWAS threatens sanctions, force against Niger coup leaders

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) flag is pictured during a summit of ECOWAS, in Accra, Ghana March 25, 2022. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko/File photo

West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS has given Niger coup leaders one week to reinstate ousted President Mohammed Bazoum or face sanctions and the possible use of force.

The regional leaders meeting in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, on Sunday, July 30, 2023, said punitive measures against Niger’s new military leaders could include financial and travel sanctions and a no-fly zone.

With military action a possibility too, ECOWAS defence chiefs would meet immediately, they said in a communique, also condemning support for the coup from some foreign nations and military contractors.

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The coup in Niger has been widely condemned by neighbours and international partners including the United States, the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union and former colonial power France.

But the boss of Russia’s private Wagner mercenary force, Yevgeny Prigozhin hailed the coup as good news and offered his fighters’ services.