Despite moves by some members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to adopt more dialogue with the coup leaders rather than deploy the military, majority of the regional body on Thursday opted for immediate activation of the use of standby force against the Niger Republic military junta. To actualise their decision, they
Despite moves by some members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to adopt more dialogue with the coup leaders rather than deploy the military, majority of the regional body on Thursday opted for immediate activation of the use of standby force against the Niger Republic military junta.
To actualise their decision, they also called on the African Union (AU) partner countries and institutions to support the resolution taken by the sub-regional body.
The President of ECOWAS, Omar Alieu Touray made the declaration while reading the resolutions of ECOWAS on the Niger coup at the ECOWAS Extraordinary meeting in Abuja on Thursday.
The resolution partly reads: “Direct the committee of the Chief of Defence Staff to activate the ECOWAS stand-by force with all its elements immediately.
“Order the deployment of the ECOWAS stand-by force to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.
The regional body noted that all efforts made to dialogue with Niger Republic military leaders have been defiantly rejected by the coup leaders as they condemn continuous detention of President Mohamed Bazoum and his family members.
The resolution by ECOWAS leaders was reached at the Extra-ordinary Summit on Political situation in Niger Republic attended by eight leaders of member-countries and Foreign Ministers of Liberia and the Gambia.
President of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani and his Burundian counterpart, Everiste Ndayishimiye attended second ECOWAS extra-ordinary summit on Niger Republic on invitation of their colleagues.
Signs that those pressing for further dialogue and diplomatic moves failed to have the ears of majority of the leaders emerged when President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in his closing remarks said no option is off the table, including the use of force as the last resort in resolving the Niger Republic crisis.
He had in his welcome address told his fellow West African leaders that the regional organisation should adopt more dialogue with the coup leaders rather than deploy the military.
According to President Tinubu: “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.
“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.”
President Tinubu acknowledged that some of the steps taken by ECOWAS to dialogue with the coup leaders have not been successful and called for the review of such steps.
His words: “It is essential to evaluate the effectiveness of our interventions and identify any gaps or challenges that may have hindered progress. Only through this comprehensive assessment can we collectively chart a sustainable path towards lasting peace, stability, and prosperity in Niger.
The military leader in Niger Republic had refused to meet ECOWAS, AU, UN and US delegations since the regional body imposed sanctions on Niger. The sanctions include air and land blockade and asset freezes.
Although he refused to meet with the regional leaders, General Abdourahamane Tchiani on Wednesday met with former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Alhaji Lamido Sanusi, an ally of President Tinubu, who later briefed the Nigerian leader about his visit.
The coup leaders also ignored an ECOWAS ultimatum to return power to ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, who is still being detained. ECOWAS had threatened to use force if its demands were ignored by the coup leaders.
However, a good number of Nigerians, including the National Assembly members, traditional and religious leaders have opposed the use in force in Niger and called for more dialogue.
On Wednesday, the highly influential Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), also called for the reversal of the sanctions on Niger Republic.
Below is President Tinubu’s opening remarks:
BY PRESIDENT BOLA AHMED TINUBU, GCFR AT THE SECOND EXTRAORDINARY SUMMIT ON THE SOCIO-POLITICAL SITUATION IN THE REPUBLIC OF NIGER
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government;
Your Excellency, the President of the ECOWAS Commission;
Your Excellency, President of the African Union Commission;
Your Excellency, President of the UEMOA Commission;
The Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations in West Africa and the Sahel; and
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.
Let me commence by welcoming you all to the Second (2nd) Extraordinary Summit on the Socio-Political Situation in the Republic of Niger, within the space of ten days. Your presence here, despite the short notice, demonstrates the unwavering dedication of our esteemed community to finding a lasting solution to the political situation in the Republic of Niger.
2. Today, we gather with a profound sense of urgency and firm determination, building upon the commitments made during our first Extraordinary Summit, on the grave political crisis befalling our sister nation. During that initial meeting, we voiced our solidarity with the people of Niger and their democratically elected President, H.E Mohamed Bazoum, by condemning the military takeover and the unjust detention of their democratically elected President.
3. As you may recall, we called on the junta to rescind its decision of toppling a legitimate government. We proceeded to impose sanctions with the hope that this resolute measure would serve as a catalyst for the restoration of the constitutional order in Niger. Regrettably, the seven-day ultimatum we issued during the first Summit has not yielded the desired outcome. We have also made diligent efforts through the deployment of various ECOWAS mediation teams, to engage the military junta for a peaceful resolution of the political situation. One of the facilitators, former Head of State of Nigeria, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, would update us on the outcome of his mission to Niamey.
4. Similarly, as part of a coherent diplomatic initiatives, Special Envoys were dispatched to non-ECOWAS nations, particularly Libya and Algeria. During these engagements, the Envoy designated for Libya had the privilege of an audience with the President of Libya. This discourse resulted in an unequivocal expression of support for the resolutions adopted by ECOWAS aimed at restoring constitutional governance in Niger. In Algeria, the Envoy was received by the Minister of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the President of the country. These initiatives are aimed at presenting a cohesive and united stance regarding the ongoing circumstances in Niger, thus showing a collaborative and concerted approach among African nations.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
5. Following the resolution of our previous Extraordinary Summit to initiate a meeting of the ECOWAS Chiefs of Defense Staff, the meeting of the Chiefs of Staff Committee was duly held from 2nd to 4thAugust, 2023. The outcome of that meeting, as well as a Memorandum by the President of the ECOWAS Commission on current socio-political developments in Niger, will be presented during this Summit. These will offer critical insights that will inform our collective decision-making process at this meeting.
6. Today’s Summit provides a significant opportunity to meticulously review and assess the progress made since our last gathering. It is essential to evaluate the effectiveness of our interventions and identify any gaps or challenges that may have hindered progress. Only through this comprehensive assessment can we collectively chart a sustainable path towards lasting peace, stability, and prosperity in Niger. Moreso, 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. 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.
7. More specifically, as leaders of our respective nations, we must recognize that the political crisis in Niger not only poses a threat to the stability of the nation but also has far-reaching implications for the entire West African region. By remaining steadfast in our adherence to the principles of democracy, good governance, and the rule of law, we can restore peace, stability, and prosperity in the Republic of Niger, thereby fostering an environment conducive to growth and development for all.
ECOWAS: Tinubu calls for more dialogue
Esteemed Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
8. I am confident that this 2nd ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit on the Socio-Political Situation in the Republic of Niger will be a defining moment in our journey towards a stronger, more resilient, and integrated West Africa. Let us seize this opportunity to make a lasting impact on the lives of our fellow Africans as we strive to build a future defined by peace, progress, and prosperity.
9. In conclusion, I extend my gratitude to each of you for your attention to this critical issue. I trust that our deliberations will be productive and fruitful, leading us to find an amicable solution to the political crisis in Niger. As we continue to work together in solidarity and harmony, we can ensure a prosperous future for the entire West African region.
10. With these remarks, I hereby declare this Extraordinary Summit open.
Thank you all, for your attention.