(Bloomberg) — West African leaders threatened to impose further sanctions or use force to restore civilian rule in Niger after a coup earlier this year.
The Economic Community of West African States on Sunday appointed the presidents of Togo, Benin and Sierra Leone to lead talks with Niger’s military leadership on a return to democratic rule. The easing of sanctions hinge on Niger’s willingness to collaborate with Ecowas, it said in a statement.
If the junta fails to comply with the outcomes of the discussions, “Ecowas will maintain sanctions, including the possibility of use of force,” Omar Touray, the president of the Ecowas Commission, said after the meeting in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. It will also “encourage the African Union and other partners to impose targeted sanctions on members of the junta,” he said.
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Niger’s government became the fourth in West Africa to be deposed by soldiers in the past three years on July 26, when members of the presidential guard detained President Mohamed Bazoum and his family. Bazoum is still in detention.
Ecowas called for the former president’s immediate release, but stopped short of asking for him to be reinstated.
The bloc’s position on Niger differed from its approach to coups in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso since 2020. In those cases, it didn’t threaten to use force and the nations remain under military rule.
The 15-member bloc successfully intervened in Gambia in 2017 to help oust dictator Yahya Jammeh, who refused to step down after an electoral defeat.
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