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Niger Coup: ECOWAS Deploys Troops, Maintains Stance for Diplomacy, Peace

WorldNiger Coup: ECOWAS Deploys Troops, Maintains Stance for Diplomacy, Peace

The Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), yesterday, ordered the activation of of a standby force and subsequently ordered the Chiefs of Defence Staff of the regional bodyto direct deployment.

Although ECOWAS agreed that diplomatic channels should further be explored and that all other options were still on the table including the use of force, President Bola Tinubu, in his capacity as ECOWAS chairman, however, insisted it was crucial that the regional body prioritised diplomatic negotiations and dialogue as a lasting move to resolving the Nigerien crisis.

Tinubu, who said the regional body would continue to champion diplomacy and dialogue, as well as earnest discussions with all parties involved, to restore constitutional governance in Niger, also noted that the failure of the initial ultimatum to yield desired results had necessitated the new resolutions.
However, responding to order, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar, yesterday, said the Nigerian Air Force has raised its state of readiness.

At the same time, a foremost Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere; leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN);  Kulen Allah Cattle Rearers Association of Nigeria (KACRAN) and some prominent Nigerians, among others, have reiterated their opposition to any military intervention in Niger.
Against the backdrop of the latest development, it is expected that about 6000 to 7000 personnel from member countries and other assets including armoured tanks and fighter planes would be in action should all diplomatic channels fail.
The last time such a deployment was effected was to force former Gambian leader, Yahya Jammeh, who refused to relinquish power after loosing election to President Adama Barrow.

The regional bloc had deployed a stabilisation force in Guinea-Bissau in 2022 after the country was thrown into turmoil, when its president escaped a coup attempt.
The Guinea-Bissau Stabilisation Support Mission comprised some 600 troops from Nigeria, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Ghana, ECOWAS records showed.
The regional bloc agreed to continue the dialogue option while not dismantling the existing sanctions taken at the last summit.
President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Touray, who spoke at the end of the second extraordinary summit on the political situation in Niger, said the military chiefs of the region were directed to activate the standby force to serve as a last option in restoring constitutional government of President Mohammed Bazoum.

The decisions including to “direct the President of the Commission to monitor the implementation of the sanctions. Direct the Committee of the chief of defence staff to activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its elements immediately.
“Order the deployment of the ECOWAS standby force to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger. Underscore its continued commitment for the restoration of constitutional order through peaceful means,” he said.
He said ECOWAS would need the support of partner countries and institutions including the United Nation on the restoration of peace and stability in the sub-region.

Earlier in his opening speech, Tinubu declared that in reaffirming the regional bloc’s relentless commitment to democracy, human rights, and the wellbeing of the people of Niger, “it is crucial that we prioritise diplomatic negotiations and dialogue as the bedrock of our approach.
“We must engage all parties involved, including the coup leaders, in earnest discussions to convince them to relinquish power and reinstate President Bazoum. It is our duty to exhaust all avenues of engagement to ensure a swift return to constitutional governance in Niger.”
Underscoring the significance of the meeting, Tinubu stressed the importance of a comprehensive evaluation of progress thus far.
“More specifically,” he said, “as leaders of our respective nations, we must recognise that the political crisis in Niger not only poses a threat to the stability of the nation but also has far-reaching implications for the entire West African region.

”By remaining steadfast in our adherence to the principles of democracy, good governance, and the rule of law, we can restore peace, stability, and prosperity in the Republic of Niger, thereby fostering an environment conducive to growth and development for all.”
Building upon commitments from the initial Extraordinary Summit held in Abuja ten days ago, the president  recollected the ECOWAS leaders’ collective condemnation of the military coup that toppled Niger’s democratically elected government.
Highlighting the ‘firm and coordinated’ efforts already undertaken, Tinubu outlined ECOWAS’ deployment of mediation teams and Special Envoys to engage with key stakeholders within and beyond the region.

He also pointed to the recent meeting of ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff, the meeting of the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the ECOWAS Commission’s memorandum on current developments in Niger as crucial sources of insight to guide the decisions of the Heads of State and Government at the meeting.
According to him, “Today’s Summit provides a significant opportunity to meticulously review and assess the progress made since our last gathering. It is essential to evaluate the effectiveness of our interventions and identify any gaps or challenges that may have hindered progress.
“It is only through this comprehensive assessment that we can collectively chart a new sustainable path towards lasting peace, stability, and prosperity in Niger.”
The ECOWAS chairman further recalled that the junta was told in the previous meeting to reinstate the democratically elected president but the directive was yet to be complied with.

“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,” he said.

He expressed confidence that yesterday’s summit would be a defining moment in the journey towards a stronger, more resilient, and integrated West Africa.
Tinubu, therefore, rallied fellow leaders to seize this opportunity to make a lasting impact on the lives of Africans by fostering a future characterised by peace, progress, and prosperity.
The opening ceremony was attended by the Presidents of Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Cote ‘d’ Ivoire, Ghana, Benin, Sierra Leone, and Togo, while Liberia and the Gambia were represented by their Foreign Ministers.
Non-ECOWAS leaders, such as the Mauritanian and Burundian presidents, also attended.

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