| 23 June 2024, Sunday |

West Africa bloc pins hopes on Niger coup mediation ahead of summit

West African countries and global powers hope there is still a window of opportunity for mediation with Niger’s coup leaders before a Thursday summit that could agree on military intervention to restore democracy.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has scheduled the summit to discuss its standoff with the Niger junta, which seized power on July 26 and ignored an Aug. 6 deadline to stand down.

The coup leaders have vowed to resist external pressure to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, after ECOWAS imposed sanctions and Western allies suspended aid.

The seventh power grab in West and Central Africa in three years has attracted global attention, partly due to Niger’s pivotal role in a war with Islamist militants and its uranium and oil reserves that give it economic and strategic importance for the United States, Europe, China and Russia.

“There’s no doubt that diplomacy is the best way to resolve this situation,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told French radio station RFI on Tuesday.

The United States is backing the regional bloc’s efforts to restore constitutional order, he said. He declined to comment on the future of some 1,100 U.S. troops in Niger.

In a sign of the United States’ interest in the country, U.S. acting deputy secretary of state Victoria Nuland flew to Niamey on Monday. She held “frank and difficult” talks with senior junta officials but said they did not take up U.S. suggestions for restoring democratic order.

  • Reuters