Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS met in Abuja today calling for the immediate release and reinstatement of President Mohamed Bazoum as the legitimate Head of State and Government of the Republic of Niger.
In a communique at the end of the Extraordinary Summit on Socio-Political Situation in the Republic of Niger read by the President, ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Touray, the leaders also rejected any form of purported resignation by President Bazoum and declared him as the only recognised and elected President by ECOWAS, the African Union and the international community.
‘‘In this regard, only official acts of President Bazoum or his duly-mandated officials will be recognized by ECOWAS,’’ they said.
The leaders expressed strong condemnation of the attempted overthrow of constitutional order in Niger, and the illegal detention of President Bazoum, as well as members of his family and government.
They demanded full restoration of constitutional order in the Republic of Niger and considered the illegal detention of President Mohamed Bazoum as a hostage situation, holding the authors of the attempted coup d’état solely and fully responsible for his safety and security and that of his family and government.
In the event ECOWAS’ demands are not met within one week, the leaders said they would take all measures necessary to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.
“Such measures may include the use of force for this effect, the Chiefs of Defence staff of ECOWAS are to meet immediately,’’ the leaders said.
ECOWAS leaders also condemned the pronouncement of support by foreign governments and foreign private military contractors, while expressing appreciation to various governments and partners for their stance and solidarity.
The Summit hosted by President Bola Tinubu, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, also agreed to appoint and dispatch a Special Representative to deliver the demands of the authority.
In response to the coup attempt, the Summit announced immediate sanctions on Niger including the closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Niger, establishing a no-fly zone on all commercial flights to and from Niger, and suspending all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Niger.
Furthermore, assets of the Republic of Niger in ECOWAS Central Bank, Niger state enterprises, and parastatals in commercial banks will be frozen.
Niger will also be suspended from all financial assistance and transactions with financial institutions within ECOWAS.
Additionally, travel bans and assets freezes were imposed on the military officials involved in the coup attempt, as well as their family members and civilians who accept to participate in any institution or government established by these military officials.
In his closing remarks to the Summit, President Tinubu thanked fellow leaders, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson, the Special Representative of the Secretary -General and Head of the United Nations Office in West Africa and the Sahel, Leonardo Santos Simaõ, for their active engagement and invaluable contributions to the discussions.