New Telegraph

Niger Republic Crisis: We’re Making Plans For Troops Deployment If Need Be –ECOWAS

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has reiterated its resolve to deploy military force in restoring constitutional and democratic order in the Republic of Niger if ongoing diplomatic efforts failed. The body stated that it was continuing with preparations towards making its standby force ready for deployment, adding that it was hopeful that the diplomatic efforts being pursued will yield the desired outcome and make it unnecessary for the deployment of the force.

President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Omar Touray, stated this on Friday at a media briefing in Abuja. The briefing was designed to provide some clarifications on the position of regional body on the political crisis in Niger following the over- throw of President Mohamed Bazoum by a military junta on July 26, 2023. Touray who expressed concern at the resurgence of military coups in the sub-region said ECOWAS was determined to put an end to the malady.

He however explained that the current actions being taken to restore the democratically elected government in Nigeria was not meant to inflict pain on the citizens of that country. In the wake of the coup, citizens of Niger took to the streets in support of the military and denounced the ousted government for alleged misrule and impoverishment of the people. Since then, all actions taken by ECOWAS and other interven- tionists have been viewed in bad faith by Niger citizens.

Touray argued that those kicking against the planned deployment of the ECOWAS Standby Force to reinstate President Bazoum were not fully abreast of the issues at stake. According to him, it would be unfair for some critics to regard ECOWAS’ moves to restore democracy in Niger as a declaration of war against the country and its people. “It is even tragic that some influential persons in the community have promoted this narrative which has been hyped in the social media as the gospel truth.

These persons have conveniently ignored the strenuous efforts of the community to engage with the junta to reverse the attempted coup. “For the avoidance of doubt, let me state unequivocally that ECOWAS has neither declared war on the people of Niger nor is there a plan, as it is being purported, to ‘invade’ the country.

“The ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government has only activated a full scale application of sanctions which includes the use of legitimate force to restore constitutional order. Never has ECOWAS indicated it.

“In the interim, the region is employing other elements of its instruments and engaging with the military authorities as can be attested to by the several missions that have been fielded to the country and our joint efforts with our partners, including the African Union and the UN. “We are hopeful that these diplomatic efforts will yield the desired outcome and make it unnecessary for the deployment of the force. Nonetheless, preparations continue towards making the force ready for deployment.

“Consequently, the technical arms of the decision-making organs, which include the Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff have also been directed to prepare the community enforcement mechanism in case it becomes compelling to deploy the force,” he said. According to Touray, the decision of the Authority of Heads of State and Government to activate the clause providing for the application of legitimate force in Niger was reached only after dialogue with the junta failed.

He said the decision not to tolerate military rule in the region was borne out of the fact that historically, military administrations have not demonstrated any capacity to provide better governance particularly when it comes to dealing with complex political, social and security.

Meanwhile, the Niger junta has authorised Burkina Faso, Mali and other armies to intervene ‘in the event of aggression’. The officers who took power in Niger last month said they would authorise the armies of neighbouring Burkina Faso and Mali intervene in the country “in the event of aggression”. The foreign ministers of Burki- na Faso and Mali, Olivia Rouamba and Abdoulaye Diop, visited Niamey on Thursday, where they were received by Niger’s new ruler General Abdourahamane Tiani.

They welcomed the signing of orders authorising the armies of Burkina Faso and Mali “to inter- vene on Niger territory in the event of aggression”, said a statement read out by the deputy secretary general of Niger’s foreign ministry. Army officers toppled President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26, prompting the West African regional bloc ECOWAS to threaten to use force to reinstate him. Niger is the fourth nation in West Africa since 2020 to suffer a coup, following Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali.

The juntas in Burkina Faso and Mali have said that any military intervention in their neighbour would be considered a “declaration of war” against their countries. And Tiani warned in a televised address on Saturday: “If an attack were to be undertaken against us, it will not be the walk in the park some people seem to think.”

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