August 25, 2023

We ‘ll use military force against Niger Junta if… – ECOWAS

D-Day for intervention in Niger decided — West Africa military chiefs

The national flags of Niger and Mali stand on a table during the Extraordinary meeting of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Accra, Ghana, on August 17. AFP

By Victoria Ojeme

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS Commission) on Friday insists on engaging military force in restoring the ousted democratically elected President of the Republic of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum to power if all measures fails.

The President of the Commission, Dr. Omar Touray, who made this known at a media briefing to clarify the position of ECOWAS in Niger crises, expressed worries that military intervention was fast creeping back into Africa and that it was time to end the contagion.
President Touray assured the people of Niger that the regional body is concerned about their welfare as it works towards restoring civilian rule and political stability in the country.
The military junta had on July 27, sacked the democratically elected President of the Republic of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, over alleged poverty and impoverishment of the masses.

Although the people took to the streets to welcome the military intervention, ECOWAS leadership handed down a seven-day ultimatum to the junta within which to reinstate the ousted Bazoum or risk intervention of whatever form.
At the expiration of the seven days, ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government began a process of finding a peaceful resolution to the impasse amid calls by various stakeholders to thread with caution so as not to further escalate violence in the region.
But President Touray felt that the current development in the Republic of Niger added to the list of attempted coups d’état in the region, the reason Heads of State and Government decided that “this is one coup too many and resolved that it was time to end the contagion.”
He added that the situation in Niger was particularly unfortunate as it came at a time the country was doing comparatively well in terms of security and economic growth.
Justifying the planned deployment of military force to reinstate Bazoum, Touray tasked those challenging the legality of the decision of ECOWAS Heads of State to do more research.
He frowned that in spite of numerous provisions against military government and sanctions provided in the various articles and chatters, the decision to deploy military against the junta has been taken out of context and repeatedly misrepresented in the media as a declaration of war against Niger Republic or a planned invasion of the country.
“It is even tragic that some influential persons in the community have promoted this narrative which has been hyped in the social media as the gospel truth. These persons have conveniently ignored the strenuous efforts of the community to engage with the junta to reverse the attempted coup.
“For the avoidance of doubt, let me state unequivocally that ECOWAS has neither declared war on the people of Niger nor is there a plan, as it is being purported, to ‘invade’ the country.
“The ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government has only activated a full scale application of sanctions which includes the use of legitimate force to restore constitutional order. Never has
ECOWAS indicated it.
“In the interim, the region is employing other elements of its instruments and engaging with the military authorities as can be attested to by the several missions that have been fielded to the country and our joint efforts with our partners, including the African Union and the UN.
“We are hopeful that these diplomatic efforts will yield the desired outcome and make it unnecessary for the deployment of the force. Nonetheless, preparations continue towards making the force ready for deployment.
“Consequently, the technical arms of the decision-making organs, which include the Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff have also been directed to prepare the community enforcement mechanism in case it becomes compelling to deploy the force.”
Touray added that the decision of the Heads of State and Government to activate the clause providing for the application of legitimate force in Niger was reached only after dialogue failed.
“We are deeply concerned about the wellbeing of the people and the country.
“Historically, military administrations have not demonstrated any capacity to better deal with complex political, social and security challenges.
“Let me reiterate that the decision of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, which is currently chaired by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is to work for the peaceful restoration of civilian rule in Niger Republic without any delay and to use all the instruments at the disposal of ECOWAS towards the attainment of this goal.“