West African leaders begin summit on Niger coup

Leaders of a West African bloc began a second extraordinary meeting in the Nigerian capital of Abuja on Thursday to discuss the coup in Niger.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, the current chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc said the meeting will be a defining moment to look at solutions to restore the constitutional government in Niger.

Tinubu said the crisis could have an effect on the entire region in his address at the opening of the summit that was attended by regional heads of state and government.

The meeting comes hours after junta leader Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani — the head of Niger’s presidential guard, who declared himself the new leader of the country July 28 — announced a 21-member Cabinet led by new Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Liman Zeine.

ECOWAS held an emergency meeting July 30 in Abuja and issued a one-week ultimatum to coup leaders to reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum or force would be used.

But coup leaders defied the deadline, prompting ECOWAS to call for a second meeting.

That was after soldiers calling themselves the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country seized power July 26 and detained Bazoum.

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