Thousands of backers of the military coup in Niger congregated at a stadium in Niamey on Sunday, as the deadline set by the West African regional bloc ECOWAS to reinstate the ousted President Mohamed Bazoum to power is poised to lapse, reported French media.
A delegation of individuals from the currently governing National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) arrived at the 30,000-seat stadium to enthusiastic cheers from supporters. Many of the attendees waved Russian flags and held portraits of CNSP leaders.
The stadium, named in honor of Seyni Kountche, who orchestrated Niger’s inaugural coup d’état in 1974, was nearly at capacity, and the ambiance was celebratory, French media reported.
In his address, General Mohamed Toumba, one of the leaders of CNSP, condemned those he referred to as “lurking in the shadows,” who were engaged in “plotting subversion” against Niger’s progress.
The demonstration aligns with the deadline established by ECOWAS on July 30, requiring the coup leaders to restore Bazoum to power.
However, as of now, the generals who took control in Niamey on July 26 have not displayed any indication of being willing to relinquish power.
On Friday, the military chiefs of ECOWAS reached an agreement on a potential military intervention strategy to address the crisis. Armies from nations like Senegal and Ivory Coast have expressed their readiness to take part in the operation.
The coup has garnered widespread condemnation from both Western and African countries. However, Niger’s military received backing from their counterparts in Mali and Burkina Faso, both of which experienced military coups that seized power within the last three years.