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West Africa Nations Preparing for Military Intervention in Niger

Defense chiefs from West African nations finalized an intervention and urged militaries to ready resources after negotiations deadlocked with Niger’s military junta, which says it is severing military agreements with France, its former colonial ruler.

With two days remaining before a deadline set by the regional bloc to release and reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum or face possible force, the junta announced it was firing some of the previous government’s key ambassadors and warning citizens of the West African nation to watch for foreign armies and spies.

Defense chiefs from ECOWAS countries excluding Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea and Niger met Friday in Abuja, Nigeria, concluding with several measures including a military intervention outlined as recommendations to the regional leaders.

“All the elements that would go into any eventual intervention have been brought out here and been refined, including the timing, the resources needed and the how and where and when we are going to deploy such a force,” said Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs, peace and security.

Musah did not say whether ECOWAS would deploy such a force at the end of the one-week deadline given to the junta but added the junta should reinstate Bazoum as president in the coming days or “we will make them hand over to the civilians authorities.”

Nigerian chief of defense staff asked the regional military chiefs to follow “a sense of urgency” and allocate the necessary resources as they had agreed.

“ECOWAS will not be used for coups. Democracy is what we stand for and democracy is what we will sustain,” said Christopher Musa, the Nigerian defense chief. He called for action to also address security lapses in West Africa, saying the latest mutiny highlights “the fragility of our region.”

The junta’s announcement brought further skepticism about any deal. It said it was terminating the military agreements and protocols signed with France and announced the end of functions for Niger’s ambassadors to France, the United States, Togo and neighboring Nigeria, which is leading ECOWAS efforts on dialogue.

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