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Chad president arrives in Niger to help resolve crisis

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Chad's military leader and transitional president Mahamat Idriss Déby arrived in Niger Sunday for talks with the leaders of a coup who have detained the country's elected president, Mohamed Barzoum.

Deby's arrival came after West African regional bloc ECOWAS gave Niger's coup leaders a seven-day deadline to free Barzoum and return him to power or face consequences.

Military intervention by ECOWAS troops has not been ruled out.

If the regional bloc uses force, it could trigger violence not only between Niger and ECOWAS forces but also civilians supporting the coup and those against it, Niger analysts say.

Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane, coup spokesman shared a Communique on a national broadcast: _"_As part of its research into ways and means to intervene militarily in Niger, France, with the complicity of certain Nigeriens, held a meeting at the headquarters of the Niger National Guard to obtain necessary political and military authorisations. Mr. Hassoumi Massaoudou acting as prime minister signed the document, of which this is the tone: "I the undersigned Hassoumi Massaoudou, foreign minister, interim prime minister, authorise the French partners to carry out strikes on the presidential palace in order to free the president of Niger, Mohammed Barzoum, who is taken hostage. This serves as official notice. Signed, interim prime minister."

The 15-nation ECOWAS bloc has unsuccessfully tried to restore democracies in nations where the military took power in recent years.

Chad is not a member of ECOWAS so Deby is seen as a more neutral intermediary to talk to the coup leaders.

Meanwhile, a new communique by the putschists claimed a member of Barzoum's government had signed a document sanctioning France to take military action to free Barzoum.

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