By Akpos Oghenetega
West African leaders after their meeting on Sunday gave the military junta in Niger one week to relinquish power to the overthrown president, warning they did not rule out the “use of force”, and imposed immediate financial sanctions.
The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demanded the “immediate release and reinstatement” of Niger’s elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, who has been held by the military since Wednesday.
“In the event, the authorities’ demands are not met within one week (ECOWAS will) take all measures necessary to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger. Such measures may include the use of force,” the bloc said in a joint statement after its emergency summit in Abuja, Nigeria.
“For this effect, the chiefs of defence staff of ECOWAS are to meet immediately.”
ECOWAS announced the “suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS member states and Niger”, which is part of the bloc, as well as halting energy transactions.
It said it was freezing Niger’s assets in ECOWAS central and commercial banks and imposing a “travel ban and asset freeze for the military officials involved in the coup attempt”.
“The same applies to their family members and the civilians who accept to participate in any institutions or government established by these military officials,” said the statement, which was read out at the end of the crisis meeting by Nigerian president and ECOWAS chairman Bola Tinubu.
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