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ECOWAS defense chiefs meet over coup in Niger

By Xinhua

   ABUJA, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- The defense chiefs of countries within the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Wednesday began a three-day meeting in Nigeria over the situation in Niger where soldiers recently overthrew the elected government of Mohammed Bazoum.
   A statement by the ECOWAS Commission said on Tuesday that defense chiefs from ECOWAS countries attended the meeting in the Nigerian capital of Abuja in response to the directive of the authority of heads of state and government during an extraordinary session on Sunday, where West African leaders imposed sanctions on Niger and warned of taking all necessary measures, including the use of force, to restore constitutional order.
   Christopher Musa, Nigeria's defense chief, who is the president of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defense Staff, told the media at the beginning of the meeting that decisions to be taken would have far-reaching implications for the ECOWAS region while calling for "collective attention and a united response" to restore democratic governance in Niger.
   "The events that transpired in one of our countries (Niger) on July 26 have reverberated across our borders, affecting us all ... We must face the challenges of restoring democratic governance in Niger head-on, drawing on our shared experiences, wisdom, and collective resolve," Musa said.
   The Nigerian defense chief charged his colleagues to unitedly send a strong message about the commitment to democracy, intolerance for unconstitutional changes of government, and dedication to regional stability.
   Defense chiefs from Mali, Niger, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Guinea-Bissau were absent from the meeting, a source present at the meeting told Xinhua.
   West African leaders gave the junta in Niger a week to quit the stage and reinstate Bazoum. But the junta has vowed to resist any plan of aggression against Niger by the ECOWAS or any Western power.  Enditem
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