The leaders of the recent coup in Niger have taken a decisive step by announcing the closure of the country’s airspace indefinitely. This move comes in defiance of an ultimatum issued by West African nations, urging them to reinstate the deposed President Mohamed Bazoum, under the threat of potential military intervention.

Daily Trust has reported that the military junta had been given a seven-day ultimatum, which lapsed on Sunday, without any sign of their willingness to comply. Despite this, the coup leaders managed to garner remarkable support from the civilian population, who joined them in overnight vigils across key cities like Niamey and Maradi over the weekend.

Notably, an estimated crowd of around 30,000 coup supporters gathered at a stadium in Niamey, as reported by Al Jazeera. The generals who orchestrated the takeover were cheered on by this fervent crowd, illustrating the growing influence of the coup within the country.

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Amidst the intensifying situation, a spokesperson for the ruling National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), Amadou Abdramane, addressed the nation on national television. He highlighted the perceived threat of military intervention from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as the reason for the airspace closure. Abdramane noted the deployment of forces in two Central African nations, indicating preparations for potential intervention.

“In light of the looming intervention threat, evident through the neighboring countries’ mobilization, Niger’s airspace is hereby declared closed, effective this Sunday, for all aircraft. This closure remains in effect until further notice. The armed forces of Niger, supported by our people, stand ready to defend our territorial integrity,” the official statement declared.

Daily Trust correspondents, stationed at the Nigerian borders with Niger in states like Sokoto, Katsina, Jigawa, and Borno, have noted a prevailing sense of uncertainty among the populace. While there hasn’t been any physical conflict, the fear of the unknown has led to a shortage of essential commodities such as food and medicine, leaving millions of people in a state of distress.

Residents, comprising both Nigerians and Nigeriens, have expressed a strong aversion to the prospect of war and have united in urging ECOWAS to reconsider its stance. Prominent groups and individuals have also joined the call for a reconsideration.

As of now, ECOWAS has yet to announce its next course of action following the expiration of the ultimatum given to the coup leaders. The military junta, having declared General Abdourahamane Tchiani as the new head of state, remains resolute in their determination to withstand external pressure and maintain control.


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