In a significant development, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has authorized the activation of its military standby force to intervene in the ongoing political crisis in Niger Republic. The decision was made during an extraordinary meeting held in Abuja on Thursday.
The regional bloc, ECOWAS, has taken a decisive step towards restoring constitutional order in Niger by instructing its military standby force to take action. President Omar Alieu Touray of ECOWAS revealed this decision as he read out the resolution of the regional body during the extraordinary meeting convened in Abuja on August 10, 2023.
Additionally, ECOWAS has called upon the African Union, partner nations, and international institutions to rally behind its resolution aimed at liberating and reinstating the democratically elected President of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum. This move comes in response to the military coup led by General Abdourahmane Tchiani on July 26, 2023, which resulted in the removal of President Bazoum from power.
Despite ECOWAS’ diplomatic efforts to initiate a dialogue, the junta leaders, who took control of the government, have remained uncooperative and unyielding. The deposed President Bazoum and his family members continue to be held in detention.
The resolution issued by ECOWAS states, “The Chief of Defence Staff Committee is directed to immediately activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its components. The deployment of the ECOWAS standby force is ordered to reinstate constitutional order in the Republic of Niger. ECOWAS underscores its steadfast commitment to achieving the restoration of constitutional order through peaceful means.”
It is worth noting that ECOWAS had previously given the military leaders of Niger a seven-day ultimatum to restore constitutional order. However, their subsequent actions, including the appointment of a new Prime Minister, indicated their intent to establish a new government rather than comply with ECOWAS’ demands.
In a comprehensive assessment of the situation, the ECOWAS Authority expressed strong condemnation for the conditions under which President Bazoum is being detained. The authority places full and sole responsibility for the safety and well-being of President Bazoum, his family, and government members on the National Council for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), the entity in control following the coup.
ECOWAS also reaffirmed its commitment to measures and principles established during the extraordinary summit held on July 30, 2023. The authority emphasized the range of options available for a peaceful resolution to the crisis and is taking steps to enforce sanctions, including border closures, travel restrictions, and asset freezes targeting individuals or groups impeding the restoration of constitutional order.
Furthermore, ECOWAS has called on the African Union, partner nations, and international institutions, including the United Nations, to endorse and support its efforts in swiftly restoring constitutional order in Niger.
The President of the ECOWAS Commission will oversee the implementation of these sanctions, while the Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff will immediately activate and deploy the ECOWAS standby force to facilitate the restoration of constitutional order in Niger.
ECOWAS remains resolute in its pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the crisis, demonstrating its commitment to upholding democratic norms and principles in the West African region.