A man displays a Niger flag on his way to a rally in a stadium in Niamey, Niger, on Sunday. Thousands of pro-junta supporters gathered in a stadium to show their support for the military coup ahead of the deadline given by the Economic Community of West African States to free and reinstate democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum. Photo by Issifou Djibo/EPA-EFE
Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Niger's military coup leadership has enforced an indefinite closure of its airspace as a deadline issued by West African nations under threat of force to release and reinstate the country's democratically elected president was to pass.
Niger was overthrown July 26 by the so-called National Council for the Safeguarding of the Homeland, causing democratic allies to condemn the coup and the capture of the West African nation's democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum.
A week ago, the Economic Community of West African States, a union of 15 countries, including Niger, issued punitive measures targeting the coup leadership while threatening that if Bazoum was not reinstated as leader of the country in seven days, they would take "all measures necessary to restore constitutional order," including through the use of force.
As the deadline loomed Sunday, the coup leadership in a televised statement said Niger's airspace was closed to all aircraft "until further notice" due to the threat of foreign military intervention, the Nigerien Press Agency reported.
The coup leadership added that any attempt to violate national airspace would be met "energetically and instantly" with a response.
In a separate statement Sunday, the coup leadership, which is headed by Col. Major Amadou Abdramane, said two Central African nations have prepared forces for deployment against Niger.
It continues that the council is closely following the preparations, the press agency reported.