Russia cautions Ecowas against resorting to military measures in response to the Niger coup.
Russia has cautioned against a potential military involvement in Niger, emphasizing that it could lead to an extended and confrontational situation. This comes after the regional bloc Ecowas announced its intention to assemble a standby force.
The Russian foreign ministry has expressed concerns that such intervention could disrupt the stability of the entire Sahel region.
While Russia is not formally supporting the coup, the US, which is in favor of reinstating deposed leader Mohamed Bazoum, has indicated that its Wagner mercenary group is capitalizing on the ongoing instability.
Demonstrators, some of whom were displaying Russian flags, protested near a French military base close to NIamey’s capital, expressing opposition to France and Ecowas.
France and the US both maintain military bases in Niger, which have been utilized for launching operations against extremist groups in the broader region.
It’s been reported that military officials from Ecowas nations are scheduled to convene on Saturday to formulate strategies for a potential military intervention.
The bloc has said it remains open to finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis, but Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu said on Thursday that “No option is taken off the table, including the use of force as a last resort”.
The US has not explicitly backed military action but has called on the junta to step aside and allow the restoration of the country’s democratic constitution.
The Niger junta has not responded to the latest statements from Ecowas leaders.
Meanwhile, fears are growing for the health and safety of Mr Bazoum, who has been held captive since the military seized power on July 26.
She and his family had been “deprived of food, electricity, and medical care for several days”, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.
UN rights commissioner Volker Turk said he had received credible reports that the conditions of detention “could amount to inhuman and degrading treatment”.
Rights group Human Rights Watch said Mr Bazoum had told them this week that he and his family were being treated in an “inhuman and cruel” way.
“My son is sick, has a serious heart condition, and needs to see a doctor,” HRW quoted Mr Bazoum as telling them.