West African leaders will be holding an emergency summit on Sunday to discuss the coup that took place in Niger this week.
“The ECOWAS Leaders will be considering and discussing the political situation and recent developments in Niger during the Extraordinary Summit,” a statement from the ECOWAS secretariat said.
Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who also chairs the Authority of Heads of State and Government ECOWAS will host the meeting in Abuja.
The military takeover in Niger is the seventh coup in the West and Central Africa region since 2020.
Gen Abdourahmane Tchiani, the mastermind of the coup on Friday declared himself the new leader of Niger.
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Tchiani’s takeover started on Wednesday when the presidential guards unit he led seized the country’s leader, President Mohamed Bazoum.
Democracy suffers set-back
Bazoum Niger’s first elected leader to succeed another since independence in 1960 is still a captive under his own guards but is said to be in good health.
Gen Tchiani, 62, the coup leader has been in charge of the presidential guard since 2011 and was promoted to the rank of general in 2018 by former President Mahamadou Issoufou before he left office.
He was linked to a 2015 coup attempt against the ex-president Issoufou, but denied it during a court appearance.
Gen Tchiani defended his actions saying the takeover was because of several problems in Niger, including insecurity, economic woes and corruption, among other matters.
The coup has been roundly condemned by international bodies including the African Union, West African regional bloc (Ecowas), the EU and the UN.
But the coup leaders seem to be enjoying support from Russia’s Wagner mercenary group whose leader has reportedly praised the coup, describing it as a triumph.
“What happened in Niger is nothing other than the struggle of the people of Niger with their colonisers,” Yevgeny Prigozhin was quoted as saying on a Wagner-affiliated Telegram channel.
Niger is grappling with two Islamist insurgencies – one in the south-west, which swept in from Mali in 2015, and the other in the south-east, involving jihadists based in north-eastern.
Niger’s neighbours, Mali and Burkina Faso, have all experienced coups triggered by jihadist uprisings in recent years.