The Republic of Niger has shut its airspace on Sunday till further notice, citing the ECOWAS threat of military action after coup leaders refused to obey a deadline to restore power to the deposed President, Mohamed Bazoum.
One of the representatives of the military government hinted that there had been a pre-deployment of forces in two Central African countries in preparation for an intervention, without giving further explanations.
The junta vowed that Niger’s armed forces and all defence and security forces, backed by the unfailing support of their citizens, are ready to defend the integrity of their territory.
Over the weekend, thousands of sympathizers rallied in support of the decision to defy external demands to step down by Sunday following the July 26 military coup.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) defence chiefs have agreed on a possible military action plan, including when and where to strike, if the incarcerated democratically elected president is not released and reinstalled by the deadline.
The West African regional bloc is yet to comment on its next moves as the deadline ends on Sunday.
The military threat posed by the ECOWAS has sparked fears of future bloodshed in a territory already besieged by a violent insurgency that has killed thousands and forced millions to run for safety.
Any military involvement could be worsened by juntas in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso following their pledges to protect Niger in case the new military heads come under attack.