In Niger, leaders of the military coup have shut down the country’s airspace, citing possible imminent military action from their neighbors after a Sunday deadline to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum expired. The deadline was issued by the West African bloc ECOWAS, which has condemned the coup, alongside international powers including the U.S. and former colonizer France. But many Nigeriens have voiced support for the military leaders and strongly reject any foreign intervention. Protesters have been taking to the streets since the July 26 coup.
Ibrahim Bana: “If ECOWAS or French forces decide to attack our country, before reaching the presidential palace they will have to walk over our bodies, spill our blood. And we’ll do it with pride, because we don’t have another country. We only have Niger. Since July 26, our country has decided to take charge of its independence and sovereignty, and this is our way of demonstrating it.”
Media reported this weekend Niger’s coup generals requested defense help from the Russian mercenary Wagner Group in the face of possible military intervention. Burkina Faso and Mali, which also have been taken over by the military following coups, previously warned any attacks on Niger would be tantamount to a “declaration of war” against their countries, as well. Niger is a major supplier of uranium to France and the European Union.