Niger’s military junta has threatened to kill ousted President Mohamed Bazoum if ECOWAS attempts any military intervention to reinstate him.
According to a report by The Associated Press on Thursday night, August 10, two “Western officials” said the coup plotters issued the threat while speaking to a top U.S. diplomat.
The alleged threat came shortly before the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it had directed the deployment of a “standby force” to restore democracy in Niger after its deadline of Sunday to restore Bazoum’s government expired.
The threat raises the stakes both for ECOWAS and for the junta, which has shown its willingness to escalate its actions since it seized power on July 26.
Niger is a partner of the US and France and helped to counter jihadi violence linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group that has killed thousands and displaced millions of people.
The AP report disclosed that a Western military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said representatives of the junta told the U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland of the threat to Bazoum during her visit to the country this week.
A U.S. official reportedly confirmed that account, also speaking on condition of anonymity, because they were not authorised to speak to the media.
After a meeting of nine leaders from the 15-member West African bloc on Thursday in Abuja, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Alieu Touray, said he could only reaffirm the decisions by “the military authorities in the subregion to deploy a standby force of the community.”
He blamed the junta for any hardship caused by the sanctions imposed on Niger and said further actions by the bloc would be taken jointly.
“It is not one country against another country. The community has instruments to which all members have subscribed to,” he said.