| 20 June 2024, Thursday |

African Union suspends Niger from bloc over coup, calls on ECOWAS to review military action plan

The African Union (AU) has promptly suspended Niger from its membership following the coup that removed President Mohamed Bazoum’s administration.
The Peace and Security Council said that Niger would remain suspended until civilian rule is restored in the country.

The council announced the decision on Tuesday following a meeting in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.
It comes after several Western countries cut aid to Niger following the July 26 coup. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also imposed sanctions and last week, agreed on a “D-day” to begin a military intervention.

ECOWAS said the use of force would be the “last resort” after exhausting diplomatic channels for negotiation.

It agreed to activate a “standby force” as a last resort to restore democracy in Niger.

On Monday, it rejected a proposal by Niger’s military government to hold elections within three years.

Don’t legitimise Niger’s military government
The AU said it was reviewing ECOWAS’s plan of military intervention and called on all of its member states and the international community to not undertake any action to legitimise Niger’s military government.

“We are studying the ECOWAS decision to prepare forces for deployment in Niger, and the African Commission will evaluate its repercussions,” the statement said.

“We strongly reject any external interference by any party or country in the affairs of the continent, including private military companies.”

The AU also reiterated calls for the coup leaders to immediately release elected President Mohamed Bazoum, who has been detained since the coup, and return to their barracks.

Mali, Burkina Faso extend support to Niger
As the prospect of the use of force by the ECOWAS looms large, Mali and Burkina Faso—both ruled by the military junta— have pledged support to Niger, saying that any military intervention in their neighbour would be considered a “declaration of war” against their countries.

This is the fifth time Niger has fallen under military rule since the landlocked state gained independence from France in 1960.

In 2021, Bazoum won a landmark election, paving the way to the country’s first peaceful transition of power.

He has been held with his family at the president’s official residence since the coup, with growing international concern over his conditions in detention.

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