A military-appointed prime minister claims that Niger can thwart ECOWAS sanctions.

A military-appointed prime minister claims that Niger can thwart ECOWAS sanctions.

Niger will be able to thwart sanctions imposed by West African bloc ECOWAS in response to last month’s coup, new Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine said in an interview released Monday.

“We think that even though it is an unfair challenge that has been imposed on us, we should be able to overcome it. And we will overcome it,” Zeine, who was appointed by Niger’s military leaders, told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed sanctions on Niger following the coup and has not ruled out using force against the army officers who toppled the democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, on July 26.

The bloc has severed financial transactions and electricity supplies and closed borders with landlocked Niger, blocking much-needed imports to one of the world’s poorest countries.

The military leaders earlier said the sanctions had made it difficult for people to access medicines, food and electricity, describing the measures as “illegal, inhumane and humiliating.”

But Zeine also expressed optimism about a visit by a Nigerian delegation and talks with ECOWAS, and stressed the importance of Niger’s ties with Nigeria as well as the West African bloc.

“We have a great interest in preserving this important and historical relationship and also in having ECOWAS work on purely economic issues first,” he said.

“Because the basic principle of solidarity is to work to enable all the states that belong to this union to be in a position to create the conditions for prosperity, and also to ensure that each of the countries benefits from the solidarity of the community.”

He also urged people to “trust the new authorities.”

“We have focused our actions on serving them with complete integrity and competence,” he said.

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