• Monday, December 04, 2023
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ECOWAS to explore all options including use of force

EXPLAINER: What are West Africa’s options to reverse Niger’s coup?

The Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has resolved to flush out Niger coup plotters and reinstate President Mohammed Bazoum by exploring all options.

The subregional bloc took the decision at the second extraordinary summit held on Thursday in Abuja.

Alassane Quattara, president of Cote d’Ivoire, told State House journalists that the action against Niger was not a Nigerian affair as ECOWAS had previously acted in cases where there had been interference with constitutional order among member states.

While noting that the subregional body had sent high-powered delegations to Niger, he said the military authorities have however continued to hold Bazoum hostage, a situation he described as terrorism.

He said ECOWAS will not accept coups as the place of the military is the barracks.

Quattara said if they do not allow Bazoum to exercise his mandate, “we will go ahead and push them out”.

Omar Touray, president of ECOWAS Commission, while reading the group’s communiqué, said the Authority considered the memorandum presented by the President of the ECOWAS Commission on the current situation in the Republic of Niger, as well as ECOWAS engagement since the last extraordinary summit.

Read also: ECOWAS vows to push out Niger military junta

He said the ECOWAS leaders considered the reports of the envoys of the chairman to Niger and various other places, and extensively discussed the latest development in Niger since the last extra ordinary Summit held on 30th July 2023.

He said: “We noted that all diplomatic efforts made by ECOWAS, in resolving the crisis have been defiantly repelled by the military leadership of the Republic of Niger;

“Taking note of the expiration of the one week ultimatum given for the restoration of constitutional order in the Republic of Niger, strongly condemned the attempted coup d’état and the continued illegal detention of President Mohammed Bazoum, his family and members of his government.”

They decided to uphold all measures and principles agreed upon by the extraordinary summit held on Niger on July 30, 2023.

ECOWAS said it will “enforce all measures in particular border closures and strict travel bans and assets freeze on all persons or groups of individuals whose actions hinder all peaceful efforts aimed at ensuring the smooth and complete restoration of constitutional order”.

Read also: ECOWAS activates ‘standby force’, orders enforcement of sanctions against Niger junta

The organisation warned member states who by their action, directly or indirectly, hindered the peaceful resolution of the crisis in Niger about the consequences of their action and called on the African Union to endorse all the decisions taken by the ECOWAS Authority on the situation in Niger.

They also called on all partner countries and institutions including the United Nations to support ECOWAS, in its effort to ensure a quick restoration of constitutional order, in conformity with its normative instruments.

ECOWAS leaders also “directed the President of the Commission to monitor the implementation of the sanctions.”

They directed the Committee of the chief of defence staff to “activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its elements immediately.”

They ordered the deployment of the ECOWAS standby force to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.

Earlier in his welcome speech at the summit, President Bola Tinubu regretted that all the efforts made so far to get the coup plotters in Niger to restore Bazoum had failed to yield the desired results

He said: “As you may recall, we called on the junta to rescind its decision of toppling a legitimate government. We proceeded to impose sanctions with the hope that this resolute measure would serve as a catalyst for the restoration of the constitutional order in Niger.

“Regrettably, the seven-day ultimatum we issued during the first Summit has not yielded the desired outcome. We have also made diligent efforts through the deployment of various ECOWAS mediation teams, to engage the military junta for a peaceful resolution of the political situation. Leaders in the regional bloc had also dispatched Special Envoys to non-ECOWAS nations, particularly Libya and Algeria.

“During these engagements, the Envoy designated for Libya had the privilege of an audience with the President of Libya. This discourse resulted in an unequivocal expression of support for the resolutions adopted by ECOWAS aimed at restoring constitutional governance in Niger.

“In Algeria, the Envoy was received by the Minister of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the President of the country. These initiatives are aimed at presenting a cohesive and united stance regarding the ongoing circumstances in Niger, thus showing a collaborative and concerted approach among African nations.”