More sanctions on Niger as junta rebuffs latest diplomatic mission



Niger was slapped with more sanctions on Tuesday, hours after its new military leaders rejected the latest diplomatic mission that aimed to restore constitutional order following a coup on July 26.

Nigeria announced on Tuesday sanctions on organizations, groups and individuals identified as supporting the military junta in the crisis-ridden Niger Republic.

The sanctions were imposed after the junta denied a joint delegation from West African states, the African Union (AU) and the United Nations permission to enter Niger, resisting pressure from the United States and the UN to come to the negotiating table.

Late on Tuesday, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) confirmed the joint mission had been aborted and said in a statement it would "continue to deploy all measures in order to restore constitutional order in Niger."

ECOWAS summit planned for Thursday

ECOWAS heads of state are preparing for a summit on Thursday to discuss their standoff with the junta, which defied an August 6 deadline to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.

ECOWAS defense chiefs agreed last week to a possible military action plan, which the heads of state are expected to consider at their summit in Nigerian capital Abuja.

Still, a spokesperson for Nigerian President Bola Tinubu said the leaders prefer a diplomatic solution. "No options have been taken off the table," said the spokesperson, adding that "far-reaching decisions" would be taken at the summit concerning the bloc's next steps.

Explaining the decision to not allow the delegation in on Tuesday, Niger's junta said it could not guarantee their safety in the face of popular anger. It also denounced "a climate of threatened aggression against Niger."

Sanctions imposed on Niger since the coup

Niger is one of the world's poorest countries and also the world's seventh-biggest producer of uranium, the radioactive metal widely used for nuclear energy and treating cancer.

Since the July 26 coup, Niger's regional allies and other countries and organizations have announced a series of sanctions against the country.

The ECOWAS and the West African Monetary and Economic Union have imposed some of the most stringent sanctions on Niger so far since the coup.

The bloc has suspended all commercial transactions with Niger, frozen its state assets in the regional central bank, frozen assets of the state and state enterprises in commercial banks, and suspended all financial assistance with regional development banks.

A planned $51 million bond issuance by Niger in the West African regional debt market was cancelled by the regional central bank following the imposition of sanctions.

The ECOWAS sanctions also meant Nigeria cut power supply to the country, while Ivory Coast suspended imports and exports of Nigerien goods.

West Africa's regional central bank, the BCEAO, shut down its branches in Niger, citing risks to operations.

Besides, the European Union, one of Niger's biggest contributors, has suspended its financial support and cooperation on security with Niger with immediate effect.

Other countries including France and the U.S. suspended development aid and budget support following the coup.

The World Bank suspended disbursements until further notice, except for private-sector partnerships which it said will continue with caution.