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West Africa: Junta in Niger Recalls Ambassador After Ivorian President ‘Backs Armed Force’

Leaders of the coup in Niger on Tuesday recalled the country’s ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire as top politicians from across the continent discussed the crisis..

Colonel Amadou Abdramane, a spokesman for the junta, said the ambassador had returned to Niamey for consultations.

The move follows comments last week by the Ivorian president Alassane Ouattara in which he said he was prepared to provide troops for any military intervention in Niger.

In an address on national TV, Abdramane said Ouattara’s wish was to see an illegal and senseless aggression against Niger enforced.

Outtara’s remarks came after he returned to Cote d’Ivoire from a summit in Nigeria where leaders of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) decided to activate the bloc’s standby force for a possible military response to the coup.

“The heads of state agreed to deploy troops from a number of countries, including Cote d’Ivoire,” said Outtara.

“Cote d’Ivoire will provide a battalion and has made all financial arrangements for the operation if it is to last three months,” he added.

“Provisions will be made at the budgetary level so that our soldiers and officers who will participate in this operation do not lack anything. So Cote d’Ivoire is ready.”

It is understood that Cote d’Ivoire would provide a battalion of between 850 and 1,100 troops.

Prosecution

On Sunday, General Abdourahamane Tiani’s junta said it intended to prosecute the deposed president Mohamed Bazoum for high treason and undermining state security. If convicted, Bazoum could face the death penalty, according to Niger’s penal code.

Abdramane said that the military regime had gathered the necessary evidence to prosecute Bazoum who was toppled on 26 July.

On Monday, leading politicians from across the continent met in Addis Ababa at the headquarters of the African Union to discuss the crisis in Niger.

They have not issued any formal declarations but it is believed they will add their voice to the international pressure to release and reinstate Bazoum.

Immediately after the coup, Ecowas gave the regime seven days to return Bazoum to power and threatened to use military force if that did not happen. The deadline came and went with no action from either side.

On Monday, Ecowas condemned the junta’s treason charges against Bazoum, calling them provocative and contradictory to reported willingness to peacefully restore constitutional order.

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