Niger regime says cannot receive W.African mission

Macron's government believes it is up to regional organisation ECOWAS "to take a decision on how to restore the constitutional order in Niger.

Niger’s coup leaders have told the West African bloc ECOWAS that they cannot receive a proposed mission to Niamey for “security” reasons, according to an official letter seen by AFP on Tuesday.

“The current context of public anger and revolt following the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS does not permit the welcoming of this delegation in the required conditions of serenity and security,” the foreign ministry said in a letter to the ECOWAS representation in Niamey.

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ECOWAS — the Economic Community of West African States — imposed trade and financial sanctions against Niger after rebel soldiers toppled the country’s elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, on July 26.

The bloc also issued an ultimatum, which expired on Sunday, for reinstating Bazoum or else face the risk of use of force.

It had sought to send a delegation to the capital Niamey on Tuesday ahead of a crisis summit on Thursday in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.

The coup leaders’ letter, dated Monday, said: “The postponement of the announced mission to Niamey is necessary, as is the reworking of certain aspects of the (delegation’s) schedule.”

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The schedule “includes meetings with certain personalities which cannot take place for obvious reasons of security given the atmosphere of the threat of aggression against Niger,” it said.

France says backs ‘efforts to restore democracy’ in Niger

France stands by its policy of backing efforts to “restore democracy” in Niger where the president was removed by a military coup, a diplomatic source told AFP on Tuesday.

But President Emmanuel Macron’s government believes it is up to regional organisation ECOWAS “to take a decision on how to restore the constitutional order in Niger, whatever that decision may be”, the source said.

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“Like all our partners, we fully support the regional countries’ efforts to restore democracy in Niger,” the source added.

West African leaders are to hold a summit on the crisis in Niger this week after the country’s military rulers defied an ultimatum to restore the elected government or face possible military intervention.

In its first official reaction since the coup leaders ignored the Sunday deadline to reinstate democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum, the ECOWAS regional bloc said it would meet in the Nigerian capital Abuja on Thursday.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said that he and his deposed government “are Niger’s only legitimate authorities”.

A foreign ministry official added that France was backing, “with force and determination”, the ECOWAS efforts to reverse the Niger coup.

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A source close to ECOWAS said an immediate military intervention to restore Bazoum was not envisaged at this stage, adding that the path to dialogue still appeared open.

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