The 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has formally suspended Niger’s membership in the regional bloc until constitutional order is restored in the country.
In a statement sent to Xinhua Friday, the ECOWAS Commission said the suspension followed a decision of the Authority of Heads of State and Government at the recently concluded 64th ordinary session, held in the Nigerian capital of Abuja on Dec. 10.
“The Authority of Heads of State and Government considered the situation in the Republic of Niger as an attempted coup,” the statement said.
Mohammed Bazoum, who was overthrown by the country’s presidential guard in late July, remained the democratically elected president, according to the statement.
In a statement issued at the end of the 64th ordinary session, the West African leaders emphasized the need for the immediate and unconditional release of Bazoum while deploring both his continued detention and that of his family members and associates, as well as the lack of commitment on the part of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) to restore constitutional order in the country.
The military in Niger detained Bazoum on July 26 and chose Abdourahamane Tchiani, former leader of the country’s presidential guard, to lead the CNSP, a governing body established by the soldiers after the coup, which has been since exercising legislative and executive authority.
The ECOWAS comprises Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.