Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane, a spokesman for the coup leaders, warned of “the threat of intervention being prepared in a neighbouring country” and said Niger’s airspace will be closed until further notice.

A supporter of Niger’s National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland wears a hat with a Russian and a Niger flag. Photo: AFP

The junta asserted that two central African countries are preparing for an invasion, but did not say which ones, and called on the country’s population to defend it.


A source close to Ecowas said an immediate military intervention to restore President Mohamed Bazoum is not being envisaged at this stage.

But a summit of its member nations’ leaders is possible in coming days to decide on next steps, the source added, as nations like Italy and Germany spoke in favour of a diplomatic solution in the troubled west African nation.

Regional tensions have mounted since mutinous soldiers overthrew Niger’s democratically elected president nearly two weeks ago, detaining him and installing General Abdourahmane Tchiani as head of state.

Tchiani was head of the presidential guard, and is accused of leading the coup with several members of his unit.

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Analysts say the coup is believed to have been triggered by a power struggle between him and the president, who was about to fire him.


On Saturday, Nigeria’s Senate pushed back on the plan to invade, urging Nigeria’s president, the regional bloc’s current chair, to explore options other than the use of force. Ecowas can still move ahead, as final decisions are made by consensus by member states.

Regional countries Guinea, Burkina Faso and Mali, as well as Algeria, have come out against the use of force, with Burkina Faso and Mali saying an attack on Niger “would be tantamount to a declaration of war” against them.


Senegal and Ivory Coast have both expressed support for Ecowas’ efforts to restore constitutional order, and Senegal’s government said it would participate in a military operation if it went ahead.

But the junta does not appear interested in negotiation.

Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum visiting Washington in 2022. File photo: Reuters

An Ecowas delegation sent to Niger last week for talks was not allowed to leave the airport, and met only representatives of Tchiani.


On Sunday, junta leaders appeared at a rally in the capital, Niamey promising the thousands of supporters present that their loyalty will not be betrayed.

“We are with you against them. We will give you the Niger that you are owed,” said junta member Brigadier General Mohamed Toumba. After his speech, Associated Press saw rally goers behead a chicken decorated in the colours of former coloniser France.

The junta is exploiting anti-French sentiments among the population to shore up its support base and moving swiftly to cut ties with former colonial power France – whose soldiers worked with the Nigerien military to fight extremist groups – while looking to other partners.

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Last week the junta also suspended French broadcaster RFI and France 24 television from operating in the country and severed accords with Paris.


It also asked for help from the Russian mercenary group Wagner, which operates in a handful of African countries including neighbouring Mali, which is also run by a military regime.

Niger had been seen by the United States, France and other countries as their last major counterterrorism partner in the vast Sahel region, south of the Sahara Desert, where groups linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic Group have been expanding their range.

The future of the some 1,500 French military personnel and 1,100 US military personnel in Niger is not immediately known.

Many people, largely youth, have rallied around the junta, taking to the streets at night to patrol, check cars for weapons and stand guard against foreign intervention.

“I am here to support our defence and security forces of my country,” said a coup supporter at the rally Sunday. “While they (jihadists) kill our brothers and sisters … Ecowas didn’t intervene. Is it now that they will intervene?” said Amadou Boukari, a supporter at the rally on Sunday. “Shame on Ecowas.”

But others have expressed concerns about the junta’s tightening grip on the population.

One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to comment, said the junta is scaring people into joining them and has people informing them about which Nigeriens speak with foreigners.

Italy urged Ecowas to extend the deadline and seek a diplomatic solution, with a similar call from Germany.

“We support Ecowas in its mediation efforts, which are still ongoing,” a foreign ministry spokesman told a press briefing.

France said it would “firmly” back whatever course of action Ecowas took after the deadline expired.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse