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Niger's military ruler warns against foreign meddling

In this image taken from video provided by ORTN, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani makes a statement Friday, July 28, 2023, in Niamey, Niger   -  
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Niger's new military ruler lashed out at neighbouring countries and the international community in a nationally televised speech Wednesday night, and he called on the population to be ready to defend the nation.

In one of few addresses to the West African country since seizing power from Niger’s democratically elected president a week ago, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani warned against foreign meddling and military intervention against the coup.

Tchiani, who commands Niger's presidential guard, also promised to create the conditions for a peaceful transition to elections following his ouster of President Mohamed Bazoum.

His speech comes amid rising regional tensions as the West African regional bloc ECOWAS threatens to use military force if Bazoum isn't released from house arrest and reinstated by Aug. 6.

The bloc has imposed severe travel and economic sanctions.

Tchiani said that Niger is facing difficult times ahead and that the “hostile and radical” attitudes of those who oppose his rule provide no added value.

He called the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS illegal, unfair, inhuman and unprecedented.

A two-day meeting of defense chiefs of the ECOWAS bloc opened Wednesday in Nigeria’s capital to confer on next steps.

Abdel-Fatau Musah, the bloc's commissioner for political affairs, peace and stability, said the meeting in Abuja would deal with how to “negotiate with the officers in the hostage situation that we find ourselves in the Republic of Niger.”

The sanctions announced by ECOWAS on Sunday included halting energy transactions with Niger, which gets up to 90% of its power from neighbouring Nigeria, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

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