West African leaders meeting over Niger crisis

Source: BBC

West African leaders are meeting on Thursday to try to decide whether to use military force or diplomacy to restore democracy in Niger.

It’s a fortnight since Niger’s President was detained by his own guards who then seized power – the latest in a string of military coups stretching across the continent.

Leaders of the regional Ecowas bloc are meeting in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.

There are no easy options for them. They’re anxious to restore democracy in Niger – a vast, impoverished nation already battling against Islamist insurgents.

But the soldiers who seized power in Niger have, so far, shrugged off diplomatic and economic pressure.

The regional bloc led by Nigeria has also threatened to use military force. A few years ago, that might have been a fairly straightforward option.

But other neighbouring countries – Mali, in particular – have recently succumbed to military coups, backed by Russian mercenaries and they’re now siding with Niger’s generals.

There is a lot at stake now – for a huge and increasingly unstable slice of Africa.

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