Five Countries absent as West African defence chiefs meet to discuss Niger coup
Defence chiefs from West Africa’s regional bloc were meeting in Nigeria’s capital Abuja on Wednesday for talks on how to respond to a coup last week in neighbouring Niger that has raised fears of a wider conflict in West Africa’s Sahel region.
But defence Chiefs from Mali, Niger, Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso, and Guinea are conspicuously absent from the meeting.
Defence Chiefs from Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal, The Gambia, Cote D’Ivoire, and Cape Verde are in attendance at the meeting, which is taking place at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has imposed sanctions on Niger and said it could authorize the use of force if the coup leaders do not reinstate elected President Mohamed Bazoum within a week from last Sunday.
The meeting which commenced at 12:30 pm is presided over by the Nigeria Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa.
The meeting is coming after the seven-day ultimatum issued by the Economic Community of West African States following the military coup in Niger Republic.
The Commander of Niger’s Presidential Guards, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, had last Friday, toppled a democratically elected government in the country.
France, the United States, Germany, and Italy have troops in Niger on counterinsurgency and training missions, helping the army to fight groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State.
Any Western military intervention to restore democracy must be ruled out, as it would be “perceived as a new colonisation”, said Italian foreign minister Antonio Tajani.
Niger is the world’s seventh-biggest producer of uranium, the radioactive metal widely used for nuclear energy and treating cancer.