Niger coup leader defiant as Nigeria cuts power, ECOWAS threatens force

Niger’s coup leader has declared that he will not bow down to pressure to reinstate deposed President Mohamed Bazoum, criticising sanctions imposed by West African leaders as “illegal” and “inhumane” and urging his countrymen to get ready to defend their nation.

General Abdourahamane Tchiani‘s comments, issued in a televised address on Wednesday, came as the defence chiefs of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met in neighbouring Nigeria to discuss the crisis in Niger.

The regional bloc has imposed severe economic sanctions on Niger and threatened to use force if Bazoum’s presidency is not restored by August 6. It has also dispatched a delegation to Niger – headed by former Nigerian leader Abdulsalami Abubakar – to negotiate with the soldiers who seized power.

Tchiani, however, remained defiant.

The self-declared leader said the military “rejects these sanctions altogether and refuses to give in to any threats, wherever they come from. We refuse any interference in the internal affairs of Niger”.

“We, therefore, call on the people of Niger as a whole and their unity to defeat all those who want to inflict unspeakable suffering on our hard-working populations and destabilise our country,” he added.

Tchiani, who commands Niger’s presidential guard, went on to warn of difficult times ahead and said that the “hostile and radical” attitudes of those who oppose his rule provide no added value. The sanctions imposed by ECOWAS were “illegal, unfair, inhuman and unprecedented”, he said.