…orders activation of standby force against junta

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Thursday ordered the activation of the ECOWAS stand-by force to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.

The West African regional bloc also directed the immediate enforcement and monitoring of sanctions on the military junta in Niger.

These were parts of the resolution reached in Abuja at the 2nd ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit of on the socio-political situation in the Republic of Niger, as read out by President of ECOWAS, Omar Alieu Touray.

The Republic of Niger came under military rule on 26 July 2023 when the country’s presidential guard detained the democratically elected President, Mohamed Bazoum, and Presidential Guard Commander, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, proclaimed himself the leader of a new military junta.

Since then, ECOWAS has made efforts to have peaceful dialogue with the military junta in Niger but these efforts have been rebuffed.

On Thursday, the regional body directed the “committee of the Chief of Defence Staff to activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its elements immediately”.

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It also called on the African Union (AU), partner countries and institutions to support its resolution.

Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government and Nigeria’s President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, specifically said in his closing remarks at the summit that “no option is taken off the tables including the use of force as the last resort”.

This was a striking departure from Tinubu’s stance in his opening speech at the summit, that ECOWAS would continue to champion diplomacy and dialogue, as well as earnest discussions with all parties involved, to restore constitutional governance in the Republic of Niger.

“In reaffirming our relentless commitment to democracy, human rights, and the well-being of the people of Niger, it is crucial that we prioritize diplomatic negotiations and dialogue as the bedrock of our approach,” Tinubu said earlier.

The Nigerian President regretted that the seven-day ultimatum issued by ECOWAS during the first summit did not yield the desired outcome.

That notwithstanding, he said, “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.”