West African bloc sends delegation to Niger, says force is ‘last resort’

West African regional bloc ECOWAS sent a delegation to Niger on Wednesday to negotiate with the military officers who seized power in last week’s coup, while regional defence chiefs began a two-day meeting in neighbouring Nigeria.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has imposed sanctions on Niger and said it could authorise the use of force if the coup leaders do not reinstate elected President Mohamed Bazoum within a week from last Sunday.

“The military option is the very last option on the table, the last resort, but we have to prepare for the eventuality,” said Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs, peace and security.

“There is a need to demonstrate that we cannot only bark but can bite,” he told reporters in Abuja.

The delegation to Niger is being led by former Nigerian military leader Abdulsalami Abubakar, who was expected in Niamey on Wednesday to start talks with the military government, Musah said.

Other details about the mission remain unclear. Amos Lungu, spokesperson for the ECOWAS Commission, did not respond to Al Jazeera’s requests for comment.

The military government in Niger is led by the former head of Bazoum’s presidential guard, General Abdourahmane Tchiani, who detained Bazoum in his palace on July 26 and later declared himself head of state.

Source: Aljazeera.com


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