France backs ECOWAS push to reverse Niger military coup

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France will support efforts by the West African regional bloc ECOWAS to make the military coup in Niger fail, the French foreign ministry said on Saturday.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna met with Niger Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou and the Niger ambassador in Paris on Saturday.

Earlier, Colonna said the coup leaders in Niamey had until Sunday to hand back power, otherwise a threat by member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to stage a military intervention had to be taken “very seriously”.

“The threat is credible,” she said on French public radio.

France did not specify on Saturday whether its backing would entail military support for an ECOWAS intervention in Niger.

On Friday, ECOWAS said its military chiefs had agreed on a plan for a possible intervention in Niger.

“All the elements that will go into any eventual intervention have been worked out,” ECOWAS commissioner Abdel-Fatau Musah said.

These included “the resources needed, and including the how and when we are going to deploy the force”, he added.

“We want diplomacy to work, and we want this message clearly transmitted to them [the junta] that we are giving them every opportunity to reverse what they have done,” Musah said.