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Paris now in retreat on the crisis in Niger

 Paris seems to be backpedaling on the Niger issue, now opting for diplomatic means in resolving the crisis instead of military intervention, according to a French diplomatic source quoted by AFP.

France had shown itself «intransigent» facing the military who took power in Niger, she now appearsset backat a time when the specter of a military intervention by West African countries seems to be receding, experts point out.

«We fully support (…) the efforts of the countries of the region to restore democracy in Niger“, said Tuesday at theAFP a French diplomatic source, almost two days after the expiry of the ultimatum issued by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

West African leaders had given until Sunday evening to the Nigerian military to restore the elected president Mohamed Bazoum, held prisoner since July 26.

The chiefs of staff of the region had even drawn the "contours» of a possible armed intervention. Paris had supportedwith firmness and determination» ECOWAS efforts to put pressure on Niamey.

But the intervention has not taken place and is not envisaged at this stage, according to a source close to ECOWAS. A summit will be held in Nigeria on Thursday.

«It is up to ECOWAS to make a decision on how to restore constitutional order in Niger, whatever it is.“, underlined the diplomatic source. The top "will address this topic».

For Bertrand Badie, professor at Sciences-Po Paris, “this statement is very weighed and very cautious (…) a step back from what was announced at the start».

«It is no longer a question of military intervention, it is no longer a question of denying any real base to this government, it is a question of diplomacyHe says.

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