Niger Coup: War Imminent as ECOWAS activates standby military force to sack junta
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has approved the activation of its standby force for possible military storming of Niger Republic to flush out the Junta and restore constitutional order in the country.
The President of ECOWAS, Omar Alieu Touray, announced this decision while presenting the ECOWAS resolution regarding the recent coup in Niger during an extraordinary meeting held in Abuja on Thursday
The West African Heads of State arrived at the resolution at their meeting in Abuja Thursday after reviewing happenings since Sunday when the one-week ultimatum they issued to the junta expired.
According to the resolution read by ECOWAS President, the leaders noted that “all diplomatic efforts made by ECOWAS towards resolving the crisis have been stubbornly repelled by the military leadership of the Republic of Niger.”
They also took “note of the expiration of the one-week ultimatum given for the restoration of constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.”
As part of their decisions, the ECOWAS leaders directed “the Committee of the Chief of defence staff to activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its elements immediately.”
They also ordered “the deployment of the ECOWAS standby force to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.”
The Niger junta have remained defiant and continued to hold on to power while keeping President Mohamed Bazoum in detention.
Since the 26 July coup, ECOWAS has sent three delegations to Niger to meet with the junta leaders. At least one of those delegations, led by ex-Nigerian military ruler Abdulsalami Abubakar, was humiliated and prevented from seeing the coup leader, General Abdourahamane Tchiani.
Mr Tchiani also refused to see delegations from the AU, UN and the US. However, he met with Nigeria’s former central bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, on Wednesday.
Mr Sanusi, who later briefed President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria on the outcome of his visit, said he went to Niger in his personal capacity. The former bank chief – an Islamic cleric – and other Islamic clerics also appealed to Mr Tinubu to avoid war with Niger and continue with diplomacy.
Also, the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) stated its opposition to war and asked for a reversal of sanctions on Niger.
The Nigerian Senate had also rejected a military option and called on President Tinubu to continue with dialogue.
Perhaps because of the internal opposition to war within Nigeria, Mr Tinubu, who chairs the ECOWAS heads of state, on Thursday, appealed to his colleagues to continue to dialogue with the coup leaders.
“In reaffirming our relentless commitment to democracy, human rights, and the well-being of the people of Niger, it is crucial that we prioritize diplomatic negotiations and dialogue as the bedrock of our approach,” he said.
He also suggested that the steps taken by ECOWAS, so far, should be reviewed to see why they were not effective. His fellow heads of state, however, disagreed with him.
They not only approved the deployment of an ECOWAS standby force to Niger, but they also doubled down on the sanctions earlier imposed on the country.
The West African leaders ordered member states to “enforce all measures, in particular, border closures, and strict travel bans and assets freeze on all persons or groups of individuals whose actions hinder all peaceful efforts aimed at ensuring the smooth and complete restoration of constitutional order.”
Speaking on the reason for their decision, President Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast told journalists that the leaders were left with no option and the decision was not just about Nigeria’s interests.
“This is not a decision of Nigeria against Niger,” he said. “We have tried dialogue, sent delegation of high personalities. The military government is keeping President Mohamed Bazoum hostage. We have to act. We have to tell the coupists that their place is in the barracks. They should go and fight terrorists.”
The Authority having considered the memorandum presented by the President of the ECOWAS commission on the current situation in the Republic of Niger, as well as ECOWAS engagement since the last extraordinary summit; and having considered the reports of the envoys of the chair, to Niger and various other places; Carefully considered the report and recommendations of the ECOWAS committee of chiefs of defense staff; extensively discussed the latest development in Niger since the last extra ordinary Summit held on 30th July 2023.
The Authority noted that all diplomatic efforts made by ECOWAS, in resolving the crisis have been defiantly repelled by the military leadership of the Republic of Niger; taking note of the expiration of the one-week ultimatum given for the restoration of constitutional order in the Republic of Niger decide as follows:
A. Reiterates its strong condemnation of the attempted coup d’etat and the continued illegal detention of President Mohammed Bazoum, his family and members of his government;
B. Further condemns the condition in which President Bazoum is being detained and holds the CNSP fully and solely responsible for the safety, security and physical integrity of President Bazoum, members of his family and government.
C. Uphold all measures and principles agreed upon by the extraordinary Summit held on Niger on 30th July 2023.
D. Underscore the determination of the ECOWAS authority to keep all options on the table for the peaceful resolution of the crisis.
E. Enforce all measures in particular border closures and strict travel bans and assets freeze on all persons or groups of individuals whose actions hinder all peaceful efforts aimed at ensuring the smooth and complete restoration of constitutional order.
F. Warn member states who by their action directly or indirectly, hindered the peaceful resolution of the crisis in Niger about the consequences for their action before the community.
G. Call on the African Union to endorse all the decisions taken by the ECOWAS authority on the situation in Niger.
H. Further call on all partner countries and institutions including the United Nations to support ECOWAS, in its effort to ensure a quick restoration of constitutional order, in conformity with its normative instruments.
I. Direct the President of the Commission to monitor the implementation of the sanctions.
J. Direct the Committee of the Chief of defence staff to activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its elements immediately.
K. Order the deployment of the ECOWAS standby force to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.
L. Underscore its continued commitment to the restoration of constitutional order through peaceful means.