EU Prepares Sanctions Against Niger Junta for 'Undermining Democracy'
Countries within the European Union have begun laying the groundwork for imposing initial sanctions against specific members of the junta that seized power in Niger last month, diplomatic sources within the EU reported, according to The Irish Times.
An EU representative involved in sanction development and an EU diplomat stated that the union has initiated discussions on criteria for punitive actions. The official indicated that these criteria will include "undermining democracy" in Niger and are likely to be agreed upon in the near future.
"The next step will involve sanctions against individual junta members deemed responsible for destabilizing the country," added an anonymous EU diplomat.
The new military leaders, who overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum of the strategically important African nation on July 26th, have consistently rejected international diplomatic efforts at mediation.
The military authorities of neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso, who supported the coup leaders, have urged the United Nations to prevent military intervention, which could threaten other West African states.
Meanwhile, the Niger junta accused French forces on Wednesday of implementing a destabilization plan for the country and claimed that a French plane violated the country's airspace, which the junta had closed.
Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are set to meet on Thursday after the expiration of the term for the reinstatement of Mr. Bazoum, who has been held under house arrest since the seizure of power.
On Wednesday, a former rebel leader and politician in Niger announced that he had launched a movement against the junta, marking the first sign of internal resistance to the military regime in the country.
Rissa Ag Boula stated in his declaration that his new Council of Resistance for the Republic (CRR) aims to restore Mr. Bazoum.
"Niger has become a victim of a tragedy orchestrated by individuals entrusted to protect it," the statement reads.
Recall that on July 26th, the presidential guard in Niger carried out a military coup, arresting President Mohamed Bazoum and seizing his residence along with key ministries.
Niger, a former French colony and a significant exporter of uranium, accounting for 5% of global production, was a key Western ally in combating insurgencies and illegal migration from countries south of the Sahara.
On July 31st, ECOWAS granted the Niger junta a week to reinstate the president.