Flights from various countries enroute Niger since Sunday evening have had to divert as the country shut down its airspace because of the “threat of intervention.”
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demanded that Niger restores President Bazoum or risk military action has now expired.
Niger’s military junta has announced the closure of the country’s airspace, expectant of a West African bloc’s threat to carry out a military intervention in the country should ousted President Mohamed Bazoum not be released and reinstated.
As a result, there have been diversions, u-turns, cancellations. Air France have also had to divert flights to Abidjan, Lagos and other African countries.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had given the coup leaders until Sunday to reverse their military takeover and restore Bazoum’s rule.
The deadline has now passed, with the junta organizing large shows of support in the capital Niamey in the run-up to its expiration.
The junta said it was closing Niger’s airspace “for all aircraft until further notice” as of Sunday, citing “the threat of intervention” as its motive.
It warned that any attempt to violate the country’s airspace would be met with an “energetic and immediate response.”
The National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland, a council of generals who have taken power, said it had seen indications of a “pre-deployment in preparation for intervention” by two Central African countries it did not name.
It warned that “any state involved will be considered co-belligerent.”
On July 30, ECOWAS defense chiefs said they had agreed to intervene if the junta did not meet its demands within one week and return the country to normal constitutional order.
On Friday, the bloc’s defense ministers said that they had reached a plan for military action against Niger’s junta.
But on Saturday, the junta, led by Abdourahamane Tchiani, the former head of the presidential guard, continued its move to consolidate power by appointing military insiders to key government positions.