Niger Junta Closes Airspace As ECOWAS Deadline Expires
Niger’s military leaders have announced that they have closed the country’s airspace.
Reading a statement on national television on Sunday, Amadou Abdramane, spokesperson for the junta, said they were closing the country’s airspace until further notice due to “the threat of intervention”.
“In the face of the threat of intervention, which is becoming clearer through the preparation of neighbouring countries, Niger’s airspace is closed from this day on Sunday for all aircraft until further notice,” he said.
“Niger’s armed forces and all our defence and security forces, backed by the unfailing support of our people, are ready to defend the integrity of our territory.”
It warned that any attempt to violate the country’s airspace would be met with an “energetic and immediate response”.
The military warned that “any state involved will be considered co-belligerent”.
The move comes as the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) deadline for the release of President Mohamed Bazoum expires.
At a meeting on July 30 presided over by President Bola Tinubu, ECOWAS chairperson, the organisation issued sanctions against Niger, asking the military junta to reinstate the ousted president.
ECOWAS said it would take all necessary measures, including the use of force, if Bazoum is not reinstated within a week of the meeting.
Despite several additional calls for the release of the Niger president, the junta has not yielded grounds.
ECOWAS has also not said what its next steps would be after the expiration of the deadline.