A meeting among top military commanders from the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, to consider the deployment of a standby force for possible military action in Niger to restore democracy has commenced in Accra, Ghana.
The meeting is taking place in Ghana’s capital on Thursday and Friday.
After diplomatic attempts had no positive results, at least 11 of the bloc’s 15 member states supported a military deployment to restore the democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum.
However, three ECOWAS countries that are currently under military rule—Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea—backed their counterparts in Niger.
The coup leaders in Niger have warned that they will defend themselves against any intervention by the regional powers.
The meeting in Ghana comes at a time when the security situation in Niger is worsening. On Tuesday, 17 soldiers were killed and 20 injured in an ambush by extremist insurgents.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has condemned the attacks by suspected terrorists.
In its statement, the regional bloc expressed its “deepest condolences” to the people of Niger and the families of the deceased soldiers.
ECOWAS further called on the coup leaders to restore constitutional order in Niger “in order to concentrate on the security of the country, which has become increasingly fragile” since President Mohamed Bazoum was kicked out of office in a military intervention on July 26.