Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 August 2023:
Leaders of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met in Abuja, Nigeria yesterday Thursday for an emergency summit to discuss their response to last month’s military takeover in Niger, after ECOWAS deadline for the coup leaders to release ousted President Bazoum and restore democracy.
The ECOWAS summit was convened just hours after Niger’s coup leaders announced a new interim government made up of twenty-one ministers to consolidate the junta’s power.
At the conclusion of the summit, the West African leaders read out a communique repeating their earlier threat to use all options – including military force to restore constitutional order in Niger.
The communique included a resolution for ECOWAS military chiefs to immediately “activate the ECOWAS Standby Force with all its elements”. (Photo: ECOWAS leaders at Abuja summit – 10 Aug 2023)
ECOWAS Heads of State also agreed to take other actions, including “border closures, travel bans, and assets freeze, on all persons or groups of individuals whose actions hinder all peace efforts in ensuring the smooth and complete restoration of constitutional order”.
ECOWAS military chiefs met last week in Abuja and drew up plans for military intervention in Niger. But yesterday’s ECOWAS communique did not say when and how a military deployment could be triggered.
Speaking at the end of the summit, Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu, ECOWAS Chairman, said that “no option is taken off the table, including the use of force as a last resort.” (Photo: President Tinubu speaks at ECOWAS summit – 10 Aug 2023).
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting Niger in the journey towards peaceful democratic stability.”
“I hope that through our collective effort we can bring about a peaceful resolution as a roadmap to restoring stability and democracy in Niger. All is not lost yet,” Tinubu said.
The coup leaders in Niger said they will kill Bazoum if any attempt is made to restore him to power through military intervention.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called for the immediate release of Bazoum and his family, who are being held in the presidential palace with limited food, no electricity and water.
The African Union has said it supports ECOWAS’s decisions on Niger and called on the international community to save the life of President Mohamed Bazoum.
The EU criticises the worsening conditions of President Bazoum and calling for his immediate release.
US Secretary of State – Antony Blinken released a statement yesterday, calling for a peaceful solution to reverse Niger’s coup after ECOWAS agreed to send its standby force to Niger if President Bazoum is not released by Sunday.
“The United States joins the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in calling for the restoration of constitutional order in Niger. The United States appreciates the determination of ECOWAS to explore all options for the peaceful resolution of the crisis. Democracy is the best foundation for development, social cohesion, and stability in Niger. We stand with the Nigerien people in working toward these goals.
“We echo the ECOWAS condemnation of the illegal detention of President Mohamed Bazoum, his family, and members of the government, as well as the unacceptable conditions under which they are being held, and call for their immediate release. Like ECOWAS, the United States will hold the Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) accountable for the safety and security of President Bazoum, his family, and detained members of the government,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.