West African bloc sets date for possible military intervention in Niger
The West African bloc of countries, ECOWAS, has agreed on a date for possible military intervention in Niger to reverse the military takeover that toppled the government of pro-West President Mohamed Bazoum.
Bazoum has been in military detention since his overthrow on July 26.
The defense chiefs of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said on Friday that they are ready to act whenever an order is given.
"We are ready to go anytime the order is given," ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Abdel-Fatau Musah said during the closing ceremony. "The D-Day is also decided, which we are not going to disclose."
The ECOWAS alliance also warned that it would not engage in endless dialogue with Niger’s junta.
However, the bloc said it prefers a peaceful solution and that military action would be the last option.
"As we speak we are still readying (a) mediation mission into the country, so we have not shut any door... (but) we are not going to engage in endless dialogue," Musah said.
Niger's neighbor Nigeria has warned of military intervention, saying it would "practically exacerbate the crisis and inflict further suffering on the innocent people in the Niger Republic and the wider region."
Mali and Burkina Faso have said an intervention would be tantamount to a declaration of war on them.
Thousands of anti-West protesters took to the streets last week to protest against plans by West African nations to deploy a military force to the country.
The protesters surrounded a French military base in Niger, protesting against years of military intervention by the European country in the West African nation.
Protesters rallied near the army base on the outskirts of the capital Niamey on August 11, shouting, "Down with France, down with ECOWAS.”
The Niger Army has accused the African nation's former colonizer France of being the force behind ECOWAS' determination to restore Bazoum to office to serve the West's interests.
France was a colonial power in West Africa until 1960. Since independence, the European country has maintained trade relations and a military presence in the region. It has 1,500 soldiers in Niger. American and European soldiers are also stationed in Niger.