W.Africa Bloc Says Military Intervention in Niger ‘Last Resort’

The West African bloc ECOWAS believes that intervening militarily in Niger to restore the country’s elected president following a coup is a “last resort,” a senior ECOWAS official said on Wednesday.

“(The) military option is the very last option on the table, the last resort, but we have to prepare for the eventuality,” said ECOWAS commissioner Abdel-Fatau Musah, speaking at the start of a meeting of the grouping’s military chiefs in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

An ECOWAS team is in Niger to “negotiate,” added Musah, commissioner for political affairs, peace, and security.

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders on Sunday imposed trade and financial sanctions on Niger and gave the coup leaders a week to reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum or face potential use of force.

A source in Niger’s power company said Wednesday that Nigeria had cut off its electricity supply to its neighbor under the sanctions.

“Since yesterday, Nigeria has disconnected the high-voltage line transporting electricity to Niger,” the source at Nigelec told AFP.

Niger, one of the world’s poorest countries, depends on Nigeria for 70 percent of its power.

Bazoum was overthrown on July 26 when members of his own guard detained him at the presidency.

The coup — Niger’s fifth coup since independence from France in 1960 — has sparked alarm among the country’s neighbors and Western allies.

ECOWAS’s current chair is Nigeria, West Africa’s military and economic superpower, which has vowed to take a firm line against coups that have proliferated across the region since 2020.

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