The ECOWAS bloc of West Africa urged the coup leaders in Niger on Friday that it was “not too late” to change their minds as they argued about restoring civilian government with the use of force still “very much on the table”.
While the Economic Community of West African States urges the quick restoration of constitutional order, the generals who overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26 have asked for a three-year transition period.
As delegates stream into Niamey, ECOWAS asserts that discussions are still a top priority while preparing a standby mission for any potential “legitimate use of force” to restore democracy, should that be necessary.
The Niger coup has heightened tensions in the Sahel region, where three other governments have fallen to military rebellions since 2020, and jihadists control swathes of territory.
ECOWAS leaders say they cannot accept another coup in their region and have already applied sanctions on Niger to pressure the new regime.
“Even now, it is not too late for the military to reconsider its action and listen to the voice of reason as the regional leaders will not condone a coup d’etat,” ECOWAS commission president Omar Alieu Touray told reporters in Abuja.
“The real issue is the determination of the community to halt the spiral of coup d’etats in the region.”
ECOWAS leaders are already negotiating with military administrations in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea who are all working towards transitions to democracy after their own coups.
The new leaders of Niger have said that they are still open to talks after initially hesitating, but they have delivered conflicting signals, including a threat to accuse Bazoum of treason.
Since the coup, Bazoum has been held in custody at the government mansion together with his family.