In a firm response to the military coup in Niger, West African leaders have issued an ultimatum to the military junta, demanding they cede power within one week.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), comprising 15 nations, made the declaration at an emergency summit in Abuja, Nigeria, on Sunday.
ECOWAS further emphasized that it did not rule out the use of force if the junta failed to comply with their demands.
The regional bloc also called for the immediate release and reinstatement of Niger’s elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, who has been held by the military since Wednesday.
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“In the event the authorities’ demands are not met within one week (ECOWAS will) take all measures necessary to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger. Such measures may include the use of force,” ECOWAS said in a joint statement read out at the end of the crisis meeting by Nigerian president and ECOWAS chairman Bola Tinubu.
“For this effect, the chiefs of defence staff of ECOWAS are to meet immediately.”
ECOWAS announced the “suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS member states and Niger”, which is part of the bloc, as well as halting energy transactions.
In addition to halting energy transactions, the regional body has frozen Niger’s assets in ECOWAS central and commercial banks.
It has also imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on military officials involved in the coup attempt, as well as their family members and civilians who collaborate with the illegitimate government.
“The same applies to their family members and the civilians who accept to participate in any institutions or government established by these military officials,” the statement said.