Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) defence chiefs have expressed readiness to take part in the standby force that could intervene in the Republic of Niger and restore constitutional order, Aljazeera report says.
The landlocked country since July 26 has been under a military junta following the ouster of democratically elected President, Mohamed Bazoum by the presidential guards unit of the military led by General Abdourahamane Tchiani.
ECOWAS in response issued a seven-day ultimatum to the military to restore the president or risk sanctions, including possible military action, a deadline that has since expired.
The latest position of the regional army is part of the outcome of a meeting of the defence chiefs which started in Ghana on Thursday.
The Accra meeting of top army commanders on Thursday and Friday came after fresh violence in Niger, with jihadists killing at least 17 soldiers in an ambush, the defence ministry said.
Twenty more soldiers were wounded, six seriously, in the heaviest losses since the coup three weeks ago when Bazoum was forcefully removed from office and detained at the presidential palace along with his family.
The country has come under the firm grip of jihadist insurgency for more than a decade, breaking out in northern Mali in 2012 before spreading to neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso in 2015.
The unrest across the region has killed thousands of troops, police officers and civilians, and forced millions to flee their homes.
Anger at the bloodshed has fuelled military coups in Mali and Burkina Faso since 2020, with Niger the latest to fall.
Analysts say any ECOWAS intervention against Niger’s coup leaders would be militarily and politically risky, and the bloc has said it prefers a diplomatic outcome.
Others are also of the opinion that if left unattended to, it could spur more coups in the region.