[News] August 7, 2023, 10:42 pm ET. By Victor Shalton.
Niger, a landlocked country at the heart of Africa, finds itself embroiled in a political crisis that has led to the closure of its airspace. The country’s military rulers have declared the closure of the country’s airspace, signaling an escalation of tensions with neighboring countries and the international community. With neighboring nations allegedly preparing for intervention and the expiration of the ECOWAS ultimatum for a return to democratic governance, the situation in Niger remains highly volatile.
In a stern statement issued on Sunday, Niger’s military rulers announced the immediate closure of the country’s airspace, warning that any attempt to violate the closure would be met with a “energetic and immediate response.”
“Faced with the threat of intervention, which is becoming clearer through the preparation of neighboring countries, Niger’s airspace is closed from this day on Sunday…for all aircraft until further notice,” the country’s new rulers said in a statement.
The move came as the deadline imposed by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for the military rulers to return power to the democratically elected President, Mohamed Bazoum, expired. The closure, effective immediately, remains in force until further notice, adding a new dimension of complexity to the already precarious political situation.
The closure of Niger’s airspace has dealt a blow to airlines operating in the region, disrupting their flight operations and routing. Forced to revise their flight plans, Air France, a major carrier serving the area, was swift to respond, announcing the suspension of its air links to Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso. Flights to Niamey, the capital of Niger, have been suspended indefinitely, while flights to Bamako (Mali) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) will be interrupted until August 11. Flights from Lagos (Nigeria), Yaoundé (Cameroon), and Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) to…