African Union (AU) has suspended Niger Republic from all its activities following a military coup in the country.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, AU calls for the coup leaders to release elected President Mohamed Bazoum and return to their barracks.
It noted the suspension is indefinite until a civilian rule in the country is restored and would assess the implications of any armed intervention in the troubled Sahel nation.
The AU Peace and Security Council also take note of West African bloc ECOWAS’ decision to activate a standby force for a possible military intervention and asked the AU Commission to assess the economic, social, and security implications of deploying such a force.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had said it will deploy troops to invade Niger if diplomatic efforts to restore democracy fail.
The AU called on all of its member states and the international community to refrain from any action that could legitimise Niger’s junta, and said it strongly rejected interference from any actor or country outside of Africa.
Recall that ECOWAS rejected the three-year transition plan proposed by Niger’s military ruler General Abdourahamane Tchiani.
Tchiani said his government planned to return power back to civilian rulers in the next three years.
General Tchiani during a televised address on Saturday evening said neither the junta “nor the people of Niger want war and remain open to dialogue.”
But Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, in an interview with BBC, described General Tchiani’s proposal as unacceptable.
Niger is the fourth nation in West Africa since 2020 to suffer a coup, following Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali.
The juntas in Burkina Faso and Mali have said that any military intervention in their neighbour would be considered a “declaration of war” against their countries.
The coup is the fifth in Niger’s history since the impoverished landlocked state gained independence from France in 1960.
Bazoum’s election in 2021 was a landmark, opening the way to the country’s first peaceful transition of power.
He has been held with his family at the president’s official residence since the coup, with growing international concern over his conditions in detention.