The European Union and the United States have called for the military junta that seized power in Niger last week to halt their coup and return President Mohamed Bazoum to office.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Monday expressed support for actions by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which Sunday imposed sanctions on the coup leaders and gave them a one-week deadline to cede power or face measures including “the use of force.”
Borrell said in a statement that Bazoum must be returned to power without delay. He also said the EU rejects accusations of foreign interference and that it will hold the junta responsible for any attacks on civilians or against diplomatic personnel or facilities.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also welcomed what he called the strong leadership of ECOWAS to “defend constitutional order in Niger” and said the United States joins calls for the immediate release of Bazoum and restoration of Niger’s democratically elected government.
Leaders of the coup have said they acted last week in response to what they described as a worsening security situation in Niger and the government’s lack of action against jihadists.
In a statement on state television Monday, the military junta accused former colonial ruler France of wanting to use military action to free Bazoum.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.