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Roundup: Detained Nigerien president calls for help, defiant junta refuses to hand back power

By Xinhua

   NIAMEY, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- Detained Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum on Thursday asked the international community for help, while the country's newly installed junta has refused to hand back power and threatened to meet force with force.
   In a column in The Washington Post, Bazoum said the coup, launched against his government by a faction in the military on July 26, has no justification, and if it succeeds, "it will have devastating consequences for our country, our region and the entire world."
   The president, who wrote the opinion story as a hostage, called on "the U.S. government and the entire international community to help us restore our constitutional order."
   The coup has been condemned by countries and organizations across the world, including the UN Security Council, the European Union, the African Union, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA).
   During a meeting on Sunday in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, ECOWAS and UEMOA leaders decided to impose economic and financial sanctions in response to the military coup in Niger.
   ECOWAS said in a statement that the military junta in Niger must cede power in one week and immediately release and reinstate the country's elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, or the regional bloc will take all necessary measures to restore constitutional order in Niger, including the use of force.
   Abdourahamane Tchiani, head of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) in Niger, declared Wednesday night the rejection of sanctions imposed by ECOWAS and UEMOA.
   Tchiani, former leader of Niger's presidential guard, was named president of the CNSP. He signed an order to suspend the constitution and dissolve the government, empowering the council to exercise all legislative and executive authorities.
   The junta has threatened an immediate and unannounced response to "any aggression or attempted aggression against the State of Niger," according to a statement read on national television late Thursday.
   It urged people to protest against France, which had exercised colonial rule over Niger for more than 60 years, scrapped military pacts with France, and terminated the mandates of the country's ambassadors to France, Nigeria, Togo and the United States.
   The security situation in wider West Africa could worsen if the crisis in Niger is not resolved, said Leonardo Santos Simao, the UN secretary-general's special representative for West Africa and the Sahel.
   It will also negatively impact the development and lives of the population in a country where 4.3 million people need humanitarian assistance, said the envoy, who also heads the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel.  Enditem
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