Saturday, April 13, 2024

ECOWAS to decide next step as Niger junta defies deadline

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Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi is an experienced and award winning journalist from Ghana. He has worked for several media brands both in Ghana and on the International scene. Isaac Kaledzi is currently serving as an African Correspondent for DW.

West African leaders would be deciding their next line of action on Niger when they meet on Thursday in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.

The military that took over power in Niger has refused to restore civilian rule despite an ultimatum from ECOWAS for it to do so.

The soldiers responded by closing the country’s airspace until further notice, citing the threat of a possible military intervention from the ECOWAS sub-region.

“Niger’s armed forces and all our defence and security forces, backed by the unfailing support of our people, are ready to defend the integrity of our territory,” a junta representative said in a statement on national television.

The ruling junta had up to last Sunday to have restored civilian rule but failed, and now seem to be awaiting what kind of response would come from ECOWAS.

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ECOWAS demands return to civilian rule

ECOWAS leaders insist the ousted President Mohammed Bazoum has to be re-instated as they threaten further sanctions against Niger.

At their Thursday meeting, ECOWAS leaders would be deliberating over the proposal that would come from ECOWAS military chiefs who met last week.

There has been an agreement by the defence chiefs to activate an intervention plan although there was a signal, that would be the last option.

When defence chiefs ended their three-day meeting in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Friday, they signalled that they had drawn up a detailed plan for the use of force.

“All the elements that will go into any eventual intervention have been worked out here, including the resources needed, the how and when we are going deploy the force,” Abdel-Fatau Musah, Ecowas commissioner for political affairs, peace and security said.

Ousted President Mohamed Bazoum himself last week authored an opinion piece in the Washington Post, urging the US and “entire international community” to help “restore constitutional order” in his country.

He said he was writing “as a hostage” and warned that the Sahel region could fall further under Russian influence, via the Wagner Group.

Bazoum warned that the coup, if it is allowed to succeed, would have “devastating consequences for our country, our region and the entire world”.

“Fighting for our shared values, including democratic pluralism and respect for the rule of law, is the only way to make sustainable progress against poverty and terrorism,” Bazoum wrote.

“The Nigerien people will never forget your support at this pivotal moment in our history.”

Diplomatic resolution

But the Pan-African movement, Africans Rising, which has strongly condemned the recent military takeover in Niger is asking for a peaceful resolutions.

It said in a statement that it disagreed with the threats of military intervention currently issued by some ECOWAS member states.

The movement said such actions would lead to the loss of innocent lives and cause further destruction to the already troubled nation. It demands dialogue and diplomatic measures to address the crisis.

“We must resist any moves that will make West Africa or any part of Africa the threatre of war by proxy between competing powers. It is very important for external powers from West and East to steer clear of Africa’s internal affairs and desist from making reckless statements hinting at military action. We will not tolerate any such rhetoric. Africa is not the extension of any other country or continent,” it said.


Ecowas military chiefs agree on Niger intervention plan


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