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Niger coup: Turkey's Erdogan opposes Ecowas military intervention

Turkish president warns that military action by West African bloc threatens regional stability
Niger's Army sergeant and artist Maman Sani Maigochi performs as supporters of Niger's National Concil of Sefeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) gather at Place de la Concertation in Niamey on August 20, 2023. (AFP)
Niger army sergeant and artist Maman Sani Maigochi performs as supporters of Niger's National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) gather at the Place de la Concertation in Niamey on 20 August 2023 (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he opposes a military intervention in Niger against coup leaders, warning that it could lead to instability in the region.

The foreign military action, which is being considered by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), would not be "right", Erdogan told journalists who travelled with him to Hungary on Sunday.

"Mali and Burkina Faso have also warned that such a military intervention would mean declaring war against them. Military intervention in Niger would mean the spread of instability to many African countries," he said.

The Turkish president added that he supports the return to "constitutional order and a democratic administration" as soon as possible.

"I believe that the people of Niger will stand up for democracy and go to elections as soon as possible," he said. "As Turkey, we will continue to stand by the friendly and brotherly people of Niger."

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On 26 July, members of Niger's presidential guard detained President Mohamed Bazoum and later announced that they had overthrown the government.

General Abdourahamane Tchiani, head of Niger's presidential guard, named himself head of a transitional government.

Since then, Ecowas - a regional political body that backs Bazoum and which has led several interventions in the region in the past - has been considering options against the coup leaders. 

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Earlier this month, the regional bloc ordered the deployment of a "standby force". 

Abdel-Fatau Musah, the bloc's commissioner for political affairs, peace and security, said on Friday that troops of 11 states in the 15-member body were "ready to go" if diplomatic efforts failed to resolve the crisis. 

"We are ready to go any time the order is given," he said during the closing ceremony of a two-day meeting of West African army chiefs in Ghana's capital, Accra.

"The D-day is also decided. We've already agreed and fine-tuned what will be required for the intervention."

Last month, the Turkish foreign ministry expressed deep concern over the coup. Ankara sees Niger as an important partner in the Sahel region to lead its efforts to deepen ties in neighbouring countries.

Some in Ankara are also concerned that instability could have an impact in Libya, where Turkey has a major presence with troops and companies. 

Some protesters outside the French embassy in Niamey last month also carried Turkish flags along with Russian flags to express support for the coup leaders, citing France's colonial past in the country.

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