“I also reaffirm our readiness to engage in any dialogue, as long as it takes into account the orientations desired by the proud and resilient people of Niger,” he said.

But he warned that the junta would fight back if attacked.

“If an attack were to be undertaken against us, it will not be the walk in the park some people seem to think.”

The junta previously claimed it had gathered evidence to prosecute Bazoum for “high treason.”

Niger lies at the heart of Africa’s Sahel region which has seen numerous power grabs in recent years including in Mali and Burkina Faso.

It had been one of the few remaining democracies left in the region.