Niger’s coup leaders have temporarily closed the country’s airspace indefinitely due to concerns about potential military intervention from neighboring countries. Flight tracking website Flightradar24 confirms that no aircraft are currently operating in Niger’s skies.
The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) had issued a warning, stating that it might resort to force if President Mohamed Bazoum was not reinstated by 23:00 GMT on Sunday. However, the junta spokesperson asserts that Niger’s armed forces are prepared to defend the nation.
The current political situation arose when President Bazoum was detained on July 26, and General Abdourahmane Tchiani declared himself the new leader, prompting international condemnation. Countries like France, the European Union, the United Nations, and the United States have criticized the military takeover.
In a statement broadcast on national television, the junta representative claimed they had intelligence about a foreign power planning to attack Niger. This statement came after Ecowas military chiefs held a crisis meeting in Nigeria, where they finalized a detailed plan for the potential use of force.
Despite the ultimatum given by Ecowas for the coup leaders to step down, they have shown no signs of yielding, and thousands of their supporters gathered at a stadium in Niamey to rally in defiance. Meanwhile, Niger’s neighboring countries, Burkina Faso and Mali, have warned that any external military intervention in Niger would be treated as a declaration of war against them. Burkina Faso and Mali are Ecowas members but are currently suspended from the bloc due to being governed by military juntas.
The situation in Niger has significant implications given the country’s role as a major uranium producer, a crucial resource for nuclear power, and its previous status as a key Western ally in the fight against Islamist militants in the Sahel region of West Africa.