Following apparent breakdown in negotiations with an ECOWAS delegation, the coup leaders of Niger Republic have severed diplomatic relations with the United States, France, Nigeria, and Togo.
They announced on National television that the contract of their Ambassadors in those countries have been terminated.
In a quick response Paris said only a legitimate government can cut diplomatic ties.
Niger’s elected President Mohamed Bazoum is detained by the coup makers, who deposed him on 26 July 2023.
Nigeria, current Chairman, Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government had sent a delegation which met with some of the coup leaders on Thursday.
Nigeria has also announced the cut of essential electricity supply to Niger in addition to the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS on the country plus a seven-day ultimatum given the coupists to release and reinstate Bazoum.
There was anti- Nigerian and Western protests in Niamey, the Niger capital on Thursday.
On Friday, President Bola Tinubu sent a letter to Nigeria’s National Assembly seeking its approval to implement the ECOWAS decisions and mobilisation of Nigeria’s armed forces for possible military intervention in Niger.
The letter also mentioned a ban on commercial flights to and from Niger and movement of goods from Nigeria to Niger.
This raises the optics for possible military confrontation and the escalation of the Niger crisis even as France and other Western countries begin evacuation of their citizens from Niger.
The Niger coupists might be testing the resolve of the international community at grave risks to themselves and regional peace and security.
However, defence experts and analysts have warned against potential catastrophic consequences and the spiralling of the conflict beyond control through kinetic intervention.
This will exacerbate the insecurity and dire socio-economic situation in the politically restive ECOWAS and Sahel regions.