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West African military chiefs to meet in Ghana over Niger crisis

West African army chiefs will meet in Ghana’s capital Accra on Thursday and Friday to prepare for a possible military intervention to restore democratic order in Niger, a spokesperson for regional bloc ECOWAS said on Tuesday.

The meeting was called after the bloc’s leaders last week approved the deployment of a “standby force to restore constitutional order” in Niger, whose elected president was toppled by the military on July 26.

The meeting was originally scheduled for Saturday in Accra but was postponed to this week as ECOWAS continues efforts to negotiate with the Abdourahmane Tchiani-led military government in Niamey

On Sunday night, Niger’s rulers declared they had gathered sufficient evidence to prosecute Bazoum for “high treason and undermining internal and external security”.

The legal threat was angrily condemned by ECOWAS, which said it “represents yet another form of provocation and contradicts the reported willingness of the military authorities to restore constitutional order through peaceful means”.

The row overshadowed talks under African Union (AU) auspices that began on Monday in Addis Ababa, bringing together representatives from Niger’s military and ECOWAS.

Bazoum, 63, had survived two attempted coups before being ousted in the fifth coup in the country’s history.

Writing by Julian Osamoto, editing by Daniel Adejo