The military governments of Burkina Faso and Mali have warned that any military intervention against last week’s coup leaders in Niger would be considered a “declaration of war” against their nations.
Niger’s neighbours issued the warning in joint statements read out on their national broadcasters on Monday, days after West African leaders threatened to use force to reinstate Niger’s deposed President Mohamed Bazoum.
They said the “disastrous consequences of a military intervention in Niger could destabilize the entire region”.
The duo also said they “refuse to apply” the “illegal, illegitimate and inhumane sanctions against the people and authorities of Niger”.
At an emergency summit on Sunday, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demanded that Bazoum be reinstated within a week, failing which it would take “all measures” to restore constitutional order.
“Such measures may include the use of force for this effect,” it said in a statement.
The bloc also slapped financial sanctions on the junta leaders and the country, freezing “all commercial and financial transactions” between member states and Niger, one of the world’s poorest nations, which often ranks last on the UN’s Human Development Index.
Pressure to push the perpetrators of the July 26 coup to quickly restore constitutional order is building from Western and African partners in Niger, a country considered essential in the fight against jihadist groups that have ravaged parts of the Sahel region for years.
Former colonial power France and the United States have between them deployed 2,600 soldiers in Niger to help battle the jihadists.