Leaders of the West African sub-region will meet on Thursday to discuss the coup in Niger and the eventual rejection of an ultimatum to reinstate the ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum, by the junta.
The Summit will be held in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital and is expected to decide whether or not the bloc will deploy the use of force to return Niger to constitutional democracy.
This is coming at a time when the US has also dispatched a top official to Niamey to campaign for a return to democracy.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had warned leaders of the July 26 coup to vacate their positions by Sunday or face military intervention.
However, the junta, commanded by self-proclaimed head of state General Abdourahamane Tiani, a former commander of Niger’s presidential guard, closed the airspace and vowed to defend the country.
To put pressure on the junta, African and Western partners have placed sanctions and reduced aid to Niger.
Earlier on Monday, the US State Department announced that “hundreds of millions of dollars” in assistance will be suspended if the country’s junta failed to return the elected government.
On its part, Italy called on ECOWAS to extend the deadline and seek a diplomatic solution, with a similar call from Germany.
Due to the escalating uncertainty in Niger, former colonial power France issued a travel warning to its citizens on Monday, advising them to avoid the Sahel region and to exercise caution due to growing anti-French sentiment.