If diplomacy fails in coup-hit Niger, our military will strike, ECOWAS says

The ECOWAS generals said the option of armed intervention remains on the table if the military junta in Niamey is not ready to return to the barracks and restore civilian rule

Security chiefs of the West African bloc ECOWAS said they are poised to restore constitutional rule in Niger as they enter into the final day of a crunch meeting in Ghana to fine-tune strategies for a possible military intervention to reinstate that country’s deposed president, Mohamed Bazoum.

The ECOWAS generals said the option of armed intervention remains on the table if the military junta in Niamey is not ready to return to the barracks and restore civilian rule.

Addressing the media on Thursday (August 17) before entering into a closed-door session, Nigeria’s military chief General Christopher Gwabin Musa, who also serves as the president of the Committee of Chiefs of Defense Staff in West Africa, said they are ready to protect constitutional rule in West Africa.

“Democracy is what we stand for and it’s what we encourage,” General Musa said. “We find ourselves gathered here under circumstances none of us will have wished for. The coup in Niger has been a great source of concern to all of us.”

“The focus of our gathering is not simply to react to events, but to proactively chart a course that result in peace and promote stability. As we grapple with the complexity in the state of Niger, let’s not forget that the height of our discussion lies at the heart of millions of people who yearn for stability, peace and progress. We must not allow the people of Niger to suffer needlessly,” he added.

ECOWAS commissioner Abdel-Fatau Musah said all member states except for those under military rule and Cape Verde have agreed to contribute troops for this standby force.

“Let no one be in doubt that if everything else fails the valiant forces of West Africa both the military and the civilian components are ready to answer to the call of duty,” Musah said. “Your valiance has been demonstrated time and time again in the 1990s in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau.”

“ECOWAS heads of state and government have resolved to make sure that by all means available constitutional order will be restored in the country [Niger]. People are saying that where are we going to get the resources? If push comes to shove we are going into Niger with our own contingent-owned equipment and resources and to make sure that we retore constitutional order. If other democratic partners want to support us they are welcome but we are not going to beg with cup in hand before we do what is right for the region,” he added.

He said the bloc is giving diplomacy a chance and the ball is in the court of the junta.

“…The ball is in the hand of the junta, the CNSP, in Niger. If they pull back from the brink, the military option will not be necessary. But we want to warn them that all options are on the table, and no options are off the table,” Musah added.

Cape Verde has pulled out of any talks involving military intervention. Officials from nine countries including Ivory Coast, Togo, Liberia, Senegal and Gambia are attending the meeting, which will end on Friday (August 18), reports VOA.

Not present were officials from Mali, Guinea, Niger and Burkina Faso, which are run by military juntas and have all been suspended from the bloc as a result of their own unconstitutional takeovers.

ECOWAS had on July 30, announced a no-fly zone, the closure of borders with Niger, and the suspension of commercial and financial transactions. They have demanded the country’s coup leaders release President Bazoum after his July 26 ouster. But the authorities in Niger led by coup leader General Abdourahamane Tiani remain defiant.



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