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Niger’s junta shuts airspace and accuses neighboring nations of plan to invade as deadline passes

by Ethan Kim
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Diplomatic Crisis

Niger’s rebellious military forces have shut down the nation’s airspace and blamed foreign powers for planning an attack. The actions came as the military junta ignored a deadline for reinstating the deposed President Mohamed Bazoum, threatening to respond energetically to any unauthorized flights over the nation.

On Sunday evening, the move was broadcasted on Niger’s state television, just hours before the West African regional group ECOWAS’ ultimatum, which called for the coup leaders to restore President Bazoum to power or face potential military intervention.

Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane, a spokesperson for the coup leaders, cautioned about the preparation of an intervention in a neighboring country and declared Niger’s airspace closed indefinitely. The junta claimed that two Central African countries were preparing for an invasion, without naming them, and encouraged the people of Niger to stand in defense.

International flights were rerouted around Niger’s airspace on that day.

Since the overthrow and detention of Niger’s democratically elected president almost two weeks ago by mutinous soldiers, regional tensions have escalated. The coup, led by Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, who was the head of the presidential guard, is suspected to have been sparked by a power struggle between him and the president.

The regional bloc ECOWAS has yet to decide on a course of action now that the deadline has passed. Several countries have expressed disagreement over the use of force, while others support the efforts to restore constitutional order. Even Nigeria’s Senate has called for exploring alternatives to military action.

Military officials in Nigeria indicated on Monday that President Bolu Tinubu had not ordered military intervention. However, the junta in Niger seems unwilling to negotiate, having denied an ECOWAS delegation access to leave the airport for talks.

The junta has mobilized popular support by exploiting anti-French sentiments and has taken swift actions to cut ties with France. Additionally, they have sought assistance from the Russian mercenary group Wagner.

France has issued travel warnings to Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali, while the U.S., France, and other nations are left uncertain about the future of their counterterrorism partnership in the Sahel region.

Within Niger, there is a divide among the population, with many youth rallying in support of the junta, patrolling the streets and standing against foreign intervention. Others are concerned about the junta’s increasing control and coercion, with reports of the junta intimidating people to join them and monitoring conversations with foreigners.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword Niger’s junta

Who has shut down Niger’s airspace?

The military junta in Niger has shut down the country’s airspace.

What did the ECOWAS demand from the coup leaders?

ECOWAS demanded that the coup leaders reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum or face potential military force.

Which countries does the junta accuse of preparing for an invasion?

The junta asserted that two central African countries are preparing for an invasion, but did not specify which ones.

What actions have been taken by the junta against France?

The junta has moved to cut ties with France, suspending French broadcasters RFI and France 24, severing accords with France, and exploiting anti-French sentiments.

How have the regional countries responded to the situation?

Regional countries like Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Algeria have come out against the use of force. In contrast, Senegal and Ivory Coast have expressed support for ECOWAS’ efforts.

What is the stance of the Nigerien populace towards the junta?

Many people, primarily the youth, have rallied in support of the junta, patrolling streets and standing against foreign intervention. However, others have expressed concerns about the junta’s increasing control and intimidation tactics.

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