Friday, July 12, 2024

Niger: ECOWAS military deployment in limbo amid growing opposition

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Elvis Adjetey
Elvis Adjetey
Elvis Adjetey is an experienced African journalist who has worked with top media brands in Ghana where he is based.

The proposed military deployment by the west African regional bloc, ECOWAS in Niger to restore constitutional order there is now in limbo as opposition continues to grows in several member states.

ECOWAS decided to activate its standby force to possibly engage in a military intervention in Niger after the military junta took power last month.

Its leaders have refused to engage envoys from ECOWAS, AU and UN for a resolution of current political crisis.

They have moved even further to signal intentions to prosecute the ousted president Mohamed Bazoum, a move that has been condemned by ECOWAS and the African Union.

ECOWAS leaders insist the coup leaders must restore civilian rule and bring President Bazoum back to power.

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A threat of a possible intervention in Niger has even worsened the crisis and fast becoming an unpopular move by ECOWAS.

Opposition is growing in two of its main power bases – Ghana and Nigeria.

Protests over deployment

There have been demonstrations in Nigeria as hundreds brandish Nigerian and Nigeriens flags took to kick against the possible military intervention in Niger.

Chanting “Nigeriens are our brothers, Nigeriens are also our family,” demonstrators demanded that Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who is also chairperson of ECOWAS “favor the diplomatic approach to resolve the crisis in Niger,” according to videos on social network.

“We don’t want war, war against Niger is injustice,” protestors yelled. The Nigerian protestors accused ECOWAS of being “used” by Western allies to attack Niger.

There is also opposition in Ghana where the main opposition party has warn the government against sending troops to Niger.

The lawmakers from the opposition have urged the country’s President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana to immediately halt all preparations towards deploying Ghanaian soldiers for this endeavor.

A minority spokesperson on foreign affairs and member of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, told the BBC that the Ghanaian Parliament has not yet engaged in discussions concerning the issue.

Lacking the mandate of citizens

“President Akufo-Addo lacks a mandate from the Ghanaian people in this regard… We firmly believe that resorting to military intervention is not the optimal course of action.” He said.

Mr. Ablakwa added that Ghanaian soldiers must not be used to escalate geopolitical tensions.

“Our valiant Ghanaian soldiers should be kept removed from the impending risks of violence and the escalating geopolitical tensions, which could lead to extensive destabilization in an already precarious region.”

Already there appears to be a split in ECOWAS on the same issue with the transitional governments of Burkina Faso and Mali opposed to the idea of military deployment in Niger.

“Any military intervention against Niger would be tantamount to a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali,” they warned in a joint statement, adding that such a move could result in “disastrous consequences” that “could destabilise the entire region”.

The Burkinabe and Malian military authorities also described any sanctions against the people of Niger as illegal, illegitimate and inhumane.

What’s next for ECOWAS?

ECOWAS insists that a military intervention is necessary to restore constitutional order in Niger.

But analysts are sharply divided over the deployment of the military in Niger considering the wave of protests in the sub-region over the move.

Whereas some analysts are in favour, others are cautioning the sub-regional body against the use of military force as it could worsen the security situation in the West African country.

So far Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Benin have expressed willingness to send troops to Niger.


Burkina Faso and Mali juntas back Niger coup leaders, issue war warning



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