ACCRA/NIAMEY — The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced yesterday in Accra, Ghana, that if all efforts to reverse the coup in Niger Republic prove unsuccessful, it will not hesitate to intervene militarily in the country.
Simultaneously, the German government expressed its support for the sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU) on the military junta in Niger.
This development follows the recent activation of ECOWAS’s standing force during its second extraordinary summit in Abuja last week. The purpose of this force is to reinstate the ousted president of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, if the junta refuses to do so.
This announcement comes as defense chiefs from ECOWAS member states gathered in the Ghanaian capital to strategize on the next steps regarding Niger and the details of the standby force. The meeting is scheduled to continue today.
The ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, emphasized, “If all else fails, the courageous forces of West Africa are prepared to respond to the call of duty. By all available means, we will restore constitutional order in the country.”
Musah cited previous ECOWAS interventions in countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia as examples of the organization’s readiness for military action. He refuted claims that ECOWAS is being influenced by external powers and emphasized the organization’s commitment to its protocols and norms.
He added, “That’s why the Heads of State are affirming that if the situation becomes dire, we will deploy our own troops, equipment, and resources to Niger to restore constitutional order. If other democracy-supporting partners wish to assist us, they are welcome.”
Musah accused the Niger coup leaders of evading ECOWAS’s efforts by refusing to meet with its envoys and seeking justifications for their seizure of power. He noted that most of the bloc’s member states are ready to participate in the standby force, except those also under military rule, such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Cape Verde.
The junta’s announcement of putting Bazoum on trial for treason was criticized by Musah. The United Nations, the European Union, and ECOWAS have expressed concerns about the conditions of Bazoum’s detention.
Niger’s strategic significance extends beyond West Africa due to its role as a hub for foreign troops combating Islamist insurgents in the Sahel region, as well as its uranium and oil reserves.
Foreign countries fear that the junta might replicate Mali’s actions by inviting foreign mercenaries in lieu of international troops.
There has been significant opposition, particularly in Northern Nigeria, against the military intervention in Niger. Various groups, including religious and political organizations, have voiced their concerns.
In Niamey, Niger’s capital, residents have also rejected outside intervention to reinstate the elected president and civilian government.
Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has called for sustained humanitarian efforts for Niger’s most vulnerable amidst the political turmoil. The agency emphasized the importance of continuing its efforts to provide assistance despite the crisis and related challenges, such as sanctions and border closures affecting vital supplies. The WFP urged all stakeholders to remain committed to supporting those in need during these challenging times.
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