Niger’s airspace has been closed indefinitely by the coup leaders due to concerns about potential military intervention from neighboring countries.
The flight-tracking website Flightradar24 indicates an absence of aircraft in Niger’s skies.
ECOWAS, the West African group of nations, previously issued a warning that they could employ force if President Mohamed Bazoum wasn’t reinstated by 23:00 GMT on Sunday. In response, a representative of the junta stated that Niger’s armed forces are prepared to protect the nation.
President Bazoum’s detention on July 26, 2023, led to General Abdourahmane Tchiani, the commander of the presidential guard, declaring himself as the new leader. The international community, including France, the European Union, the United Nations, and the United States, has widely condemned the military takeover.
During a televised statement on Sunday, the junta spokesperson mentioned having information about an impending attack by a foreign power against Niger. After a crisis meeting in Nigeria, Ecowas military chiefs outlined a detailed plan for potential military action, although they expressed a preference for a diplomatic resolution.
The ultimatum issued by Ecowas, demanding the coup leaders relinquish power by midnight local time, has passed without compliance. Ecowas comprises 15 West African countries, including Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, and Ghana.
Despite mounting pressure, the coup leaders have not exhibited any willingness to step down. Thousands of their supporters gathered defiantly at a stadium in Niger’s capital, Niamey. Burkina Faso and Mali, neighboring countries of Niger, have warned that any external military intervention would be treated as a declaration of war against them. These two nations are also Ecowas members but have been suspended from the bloc due to military rule.
Niger’s significance as a uranium producer, a crucial fuel for nuclear power, and its role as a key ally in combating Islamist militants in the Sahel region of West Africa were underscored during Mr. Bazoum’s leadership.