Military Chiefs from ECOWAS Gather in Ghana to Discuss Intervention in Niger

Military leaders from the West African bloc ECOWAS are set to convene in Ghana this week to deliberate on potential intervention in Niger.

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Sources from both military and political circles within the region confirmed this on Tuesday.

Originally planned for the previous weekend but postponed, the meeting has gained significance following the ECOWAS leaders’ recent approval of deploying a “standby force to restore constitutional order” in Niger.

This move comes after the president of Niger was ousted on July 26, prompting concerns about stability and governance in the country.

Background and Diplomatic Efforts

Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum’s election in 2021 marked a historic moment for the country, signifying its first peaceful transfer of power since gaining independence from France in 1960.

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However, his removal in July 2023 has reverberated across West Africa, especially in the context of Mali and Burkina Faso’s experiences with military takeovers amidst jihadist insurgencies.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) issued a one-week ultimatum on July 30 for Niger’s military rulers to reinstate President Bazoum or face potential intervention.

Despite this ultimatum, the deadline passed without any action.

While there has been talk of military intervention, analysts caution that such a move could be fraught with operational and political risks due to divisions within ECOWAS and domestic criticisms.

Mixed Signals from Niger’s Military Regime

Niger’s military rulers have sent conflicting messages since the crisis began.

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They initially expressed openness to diplomatic efforts, engaging with Nigerian religious mediators.

However, the situation took a turn when the regime declared its intention to prosecute former President Bazoum for “high treason and undermining internal and external security.”

This move was met with strong condemnation from ECOWAS and international stakeholders who have been advocating for peaceful resolutions.

International Response and Concerns

The crisis in Niger has attracted international attention and concern.

The African Union (AU) initiated talks in Addis Ababa involving representatives from the regime and ECOWAS, while Russian President Vladimir Putin urged a peaceful resolution through diplomatic means during a conversation with Mali’s junta leader.

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Niger, a landlocked nation in the Sahel region, faces immense challenges.

It is one of the world’s poorest and most unstable countries, and the recent political turmoil exacerbates its vulnerabilities.

As international pressure mounts and various forms of sanctions are applied, there is growing emphasis on the need for a return to civilian rule in Niger to restore stability and address the concerns of vulnerable populations.

Impact on Regional Strategy and Assistance

Niger’s political upheaval has implications beyond its borders.

The ousting of President Bazoum has dealt a blow to the strategic plans of both France and the United States in the Sahel region.

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France had shifted its focus to Niger in its efforts against jihadist groups after withdrawing from Mali and Burkina Faso.

Meanwhile, assistance programs from France, Germany, and the United States have been suspended, and the country is facing trade and financial sanctions from ECOWAS.

The Sahel Alliance, an international initiative for regional development, has highlighted the urgent need for a return to civilian governance in Niger.

The coup’s impact on vulnerable populations and the overall stability of the region is a significant concern for the alliance and other international actors.

In conclusion, the upcoming ECOWAS meeting in Ghana serves as a platform for deliberating on potential intervention in Niger.

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The country’s recent political crisis and military takeover have raised alarms within West Africa and beyond, prompting diplomatic efforts and concerns about stability, governance, and regional strategies.

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