Following their rejection of a demand from West African nations that they either restore deposed President Mohamed Bazoum or risk military intervention, the coup leaders in Niger have blocked the nation’s airspace.
The decision was made late on Sunday, as hundreds of supporters of the generals who took over, also known as the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), assembled at a stadium in Niamey, the capital of Niger.
Amadou Abdramane, a spokesman for the CNSP, justified the shutdown of the airspace by citing the ECOWAS’s threat of military action.
Abdramane said there had been a pre-deployment of military in two Central African countries in preparation for involvement in a statement read out on national television, but he did not provide details.
Niger’s airspace is closed to all aircraft as of this Sunday until further notice due to the threat of involvement, which is becoming more apparent as a result of neighboring nations’ preparations, he said.
He said, “Niger’s armed forces, along with all of our defense and security forces, are prepared to protect the integrity of our land, backed by the unwavering support of our people.
The July 26 coup in Niger was the seventh in West and Central Africa over the previous three years. It has shook the Sahel region of Africa, one of the world’s poorest regions and a battleground for armed groups with ties to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS).
In addition to harsh travel and economic restrictions, such as cutting off Niger’s electricity supplies, ECOWAS has denounced the coup. In the event that the country’s detained leader is not freed and put back in office by Sunday, the defense chiefs of the bloc have decided on a potential military action plan, including when and where to strike.
“Everyone is waiting to see what ECOWAS will do next. The alliance has stated that every option will be investigated and that any kind of military intervention will only be used as a last resort since the crisis started.
People are worried that this could turn into a regional battle and that armed organizations like ISIS and al-Qaeda will exploit any further unrest in the area. The ECOWAS has not specified what its upcoming actions will be or how precisely on Sunday its deadline will pass.
West African nations are rushing to choose a side amid the possibility of a regional war. Although the Nigerian Senate rejected President Bola Tinubu’s request for a deployment clearance and urged him to consider alternatives to using force, Nigeria, Senegal, and the Ivory Coast have stated that they will send troops.
Burkina Faso and Mali, who have administrations supported by the military, have stated that any intervention in Niger would be viewed as a declaration of war against them. Additionally, Algeria, which has a lengthy land border with Niger, has cautioned against using force to resolve the conflict.