Coup supporters rally in Niger after leader warns of foreign intervention

Several thousand people gathered in Niger’s capital Niamey on Sunday for a demonstration in favor of the military coup that took place last month after leader of the coup warned against foreign involvement and put forth a proposal for a three-year power transition.

During the demonstration, the protesters chanted slogans expressing opposition to France, the former colonial power, and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS.

The bloc is currently exploring the possibility of a military intervention to restore President Mohamed Bazoum to power if negotiations with the coup leaders do not yield results.

While the new military authorities in the Sahel state have officially prohibited demonstrations, in practice, those showing support for the coup are being permitted to proceed.

The protesters held signs that read “Stop Military Intervention” and “No to Sanctions,” in direct response to the economic and trade sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) shortly after the July 26 coup.

Musicians accompanied Sunday’s rally in support of the coup, performing songs that praised the new military leadership, local media reported.

Continuing the series of pro-coup demonstrations, the most recent gathering occurred a day after the new military leader in Niamey cautioned that any attempt to attack Niger would not be an easy endeavor.

In a televised statement on Saturday, General Abdourahamane Tiani expressed that he had no intention of “confiscate” power and emphasized that the transition to civilian governance would not exceed three years.

The newly appointed leaders of Niger have alleged that France, a staunch supporter of Bazoum, is influencing ECOWAS’ anti-coup stance. ECOWAS, on Saturday, intensified its efforts towards a diplomatic resolution.

Following a gathering of ECOWAS chiefs of staff in Accra, the capital of Ghana, on Friday, the 17-member bloc announced that they had established a potential intervention date.

A Chance For Diplomacy?

However, they still dispatched a diplomatic mission to Niamey on Saturday, headed by former Nigerian leader Abdulsalami Abubakar.

Nigerian television aired footage of delegation members exchanging handshakes with Bazoum, who is currently detained.

It also televised Abubakar conversing with Tiani, but the details of their discussion have not been disclosed to the public.

In his televised statement on Saturday, Tiani claimed that ECOWAS was “getting ready to attack Niger by setting up an occupying army in collaboration with a foreign army”, without specifying the country involved.

But he added: “If an attack were to be undertaken against us, it will not be the walk in the park some people seem to think.”

Tiani also declared a 30-day timeframe for “national dialogue” aimed at formulating “tangible suggestions” to establish the basis for “a new constitutional life.”

ECOWAS leaders assert that prompt action is necessary as Niger becomes the fourth West African country to experience a coup since 2020, joining the ranks of Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali.

The regional bloc has consented to mobilize a “standby force” as a final measure to reinstate democracy in Niger.

The Sahel region is grappling with escalating militant insurgencies connected to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

Those responsible for the military coups have cited frustration over the violence as their rationale for seizing power.

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