ECOWAS draws up plan for military intervention in Niger

ECOWAS draws up plan for military intervention in Niger

All elements that would go into any intervention have been worked out, says official

By James Tasamba

KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) – West African defense chiefs have drawn up a plan for possible military intervention to restore democratic rule in Niger, an official said Friday, as a seven-day deadline given to coup leaders to reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum drew closer.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at an emergency meeting last Sunday in Nigeria in the aftermath of the coup ordered the military leaders to reinstate President Bazoum within one week or it would “take all measures,” including the “use of force,” to restore constitutional order in Niger.

Speaking at the close of a three-day meeting of defense chiefs in the Nigerian capital Abuja, Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs, peace and security, said that all the modalities have been worked out, although a diplomatic option remains on the table.

“All the elements that would go into any intervention have been worked out, including the timing, resources needed and how and when to deploy such force,” he said.

“Whatever has been achieved here will be presented very soon to the heads of state who will have the final say as to what we are going to do with regard to the situation in the Republic of Niger.”

In 2017, ECOWAS used military force to restore constitutional order in Gambia when Yahya Jammeh refused to cede power after losing an election.

Musah made a fresh appeal to the coup leaders in Niger to give peace a chance by immediately restoring constitutional order in their country.

Nigeria, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Benin have all expressed their resolve to send troops into Niger if ECOWAS endorses the decision.

Ibrahim Kana, Nigeria’s Defense Ministry Permanent Secretary, said that Nigeria remained committed to restoring democracy in Niger, but the diplomatic approach is seen as the best option.

On Wednesday, coup leader Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani sounded defiant, saying the junta would “not give in to threats” to restore the deposed President Bazoum and “refuses any interference in the internal affairs of Niger.”

Bazoum was detained by members of the Presidential Guard on July 26, and that evening, the military announced that it had seized power.

Two days later, Gen. Tchiani, the commander of Niger's presidential guard, declared himself the head of a transitional government.

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