• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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ECOWAS vows to restore democracy in Niger

The toll of Niger coup on West African trade

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has vowed to do everything within its capacity to reinstate elected President Mohamed Bazoum in Niger.

Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs, peace and security, speaking at a two-day meeting of ECOWAS defence chiefs in Abuja, on Wednesday, said there was a need to show that we (ECOWAS) can go beyond barking and “we can bite, that is the reason we are gathered here today. ”

Defence chiefs from Mali, Niger, Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso, and Guinea were absent from the meeting currently ongoing in Abuja.

Defence chiefs from Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal, The Gambia, Cote D’Ivoire, and Cape Verde were in attendance.

Musah also hinted at a military action to arrest what he termed as a hostage situation in Niger. He recalled that heads of states of member states had agreed to activate the ECOWAS standby force to restore democracy where it is threatened. He said terrorism and incessant military coups are the biggest existential threats in the region.

“We need to restore constitutional order; when the seven days elapse, anything can happen, heads of state has said nothing is off the table”, he said.

Recall that ECOWAS last Sunday gave the military junta in the Niger Republic a seven-day ultimatum to reinstate their ousted president.

“We are not sure which country will be next. If we do not arrest this situation, West Africa is going to be a laughing stock of Africa and the world.

Nigeria is a regional leader, there is no way this region can overcome these challenges without the leadership role of Nigeria. We are at an inflation point now, it seems like President Bola Tinubu is being challenged, soon after his declaration, we have this coup and the need to demonstrate that we can go beyond backing and bite.

Speaking further on allegations that ECOWAS is trying to encroach on the sovereignty of Niger, he stated that ECOWAS is guided by rules and protocols, and as a member of an organisation in an international community that signed to peace and security protocol document, the nation cedes part of its sovereignty to the collective good.

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“Unfortunately, the supplementary policy on democracy and good governance came into force under the chairmanship of ECOWAS under the former President of Niger in Niger. It is ironic that this zero-tolerance will be broken by the same Niger.

“Unfortunately also, we have got a union of member states led by military leaders who have said any declaration of war upon Niger is also a declaration on them and even threatened to withdraw from ECOWAS, we want to reassure that once they were signatory to ECOWAS protocol, that is not going to be tolerated and we are going to do everything to ensure that the situation in Niger is resolved.”

He said Nigeria was key to addressing the situation. According to him, “Nigeria is a regional leader, there is no way this region can overcome these challenges without the leadership of Nigeria. We are at inflation point now and it seems like President Bola Tinubu is being challenged”.

In his address at the meeting, Nigeria’s chief of defence staff (CDS), Christopher Musa, noted that the coup in Niger Republic calls for collective attention and a united response. He charged ECOWAS defence chiefs to face the challenges of restoring democratic governance in Niger head-on, drawing their shared experiences, wisdom, and collective resolve.

He said: “ECOWAS’ strength lies in unity, shared values, and commitment to democracy, peace, and prosperity. In this regard, we are tasked with a mission to restore democracy in the Republic of Niger and preserve germane humanitarian principles across the region. Our decisions will inevitably shape the lives of millions of people around the sub-continent.

“The political instability in Niger is a source of grave concern for us all. It threatens our shared vision of a peaceful, secure, and prosperous West Africa, a vision that is impossible to achieve amidst political upheavals and disruptions to constitutional order. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to deliberate on this issue and chart a course towards resolution, in accordance with the principles of democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.”

“It is my fervent hope that our discussions will be marked by openness, frankness, and constructive dialogue. I encourage each one of us to contribute fully and freely, to listen attentively to each other, and to work collaboratively towards a solution that upholds our shared values and serves the best interests of the people of Niger.