Niamey/Paris, Aug 7 (EFE).- The military junta in Niger has reinforced security coinciding with the expiry overnight of the ultimatum given by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to restore constitutional order in the politically embattled country.
The military junta, calling itself the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), announced overnight a fresh closure of its airspace and accused ECOWAS of “war planning” against Niger.
Since then all shops have remained closed in the capital, while people mostly stayed indoors over concerns about an eventual military attack by the regional bloc.
An official from Niamey International Airport explained to EFE that the military has since reinforced security around the establishment, and that civilian personnel left the place and the lighting system on the runways was switched off the previous night.
The junta also warned in a statement overnight on public television that any violation of its border and airspace would be met with a strong, immediate response.
Tension in the West African region has been high since the expiry of the ultimatum by ECOWAS, which, however, has underlined that military intervention would be the last resort.
African countries, including members of the ECOWAS, remain divided over the issue of intervention in Niger.
As of now, the governments of Nigeria, Benin, Ivory Coast and Senegal have clearly confirmed their readiness for military intervention.
On the other hand, Mali and Burkina Faso, countries close to Moscow and ruled by military juntas, oppose the use of force and argue that any intervention in Niger would amount to a declaration of war against them as well.
Guinea, Algeria and Chad have also opposed the idea of intervention.
Meanwhile, the French government has suspended its development aid and budgetary assistance to Burkina Faso over the country’s support to last month’s coup in Niger.
“France suspends, until further notice, all its development aid and budgetary support actions to Burkina Faso,” said a statement by the French foreign ministry.
Following the 2022 military coup in Burkina Faso, the Junta regime earlier this year asked France to withdraw its soldiers from the country.
France’s ongoing development aid to Burkina Faso is estimated to be around $530million, while its budgetary support for this African country in 2022 amounted to more than $14 million, according to France 24 Channel.
Niger, among the poorest countries in the world, faces a security crisis with highly active extremist groups.
It has also been suffering from political instability since July 26, when the CNSP ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in a coup and suspended the Constitution. EFE