Niger on the Brink as ECOWAS Chiefs Gear Up for Swift Military Action

An emergency ECOWAS meeting is held in Abuja. At the meeting, a call is made for quick military action to restore civil order in Niger.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has voiced their support for the rapid launch of a military intervention operation in Niger. This announcement was made by the President of Côte d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, and the French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) relayed his statements.

The capital of Nigeria, Abuja, played host to an emergency meeting of ECOWAS on August 10 to discuss the situation in Niger. The organisation has given the committee of defence chiefs the mission of immediately activating reserve forces to restore constitutional order in Niger.

In his opening address to the heads of state of ECOWAS, which consists of 15 member countries, the President of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu, stated that the bloc will seek a solution to the situation because the coup poses a threat to the entirety of the West African region. 

On the other hand, there is opposition coming from within Nigeria. Elijah Ayodele, the president of the Evangelical Church in Nigeria, has been quoted as saying in the past that US President Joe Biden should not attempt to intervene in the current situation in Niger. He observed that any future action by the United States in the African Republic would be a grave error.

According to the President of Côte d’Ivoire, there will be many more conferences held by the chiefs of staff to finalise the details of the operation. However, they have received the agreement of the heads of state conference to begin the operation as quickly as possible.

Ouattara stated that the number of personnel making up the Côte d’Ivoire battalion would range between 850 and 1,100 people. Other countries’ militaries and those of Nigeria and Benin will send troops to assist them.

He said that ECOWAS is completely committed to ensuring that the President of Niger can continue his responsibilities.

Backing from US and France and Internal Rebellion

The decision made by ECOWAS has received backing from the United States and France.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the United States backs the efforts being taken by ECOWAS to restore order in Niger. Blinken noted that ECOWAS takes a leading role in clearly emphasising the importance of restoring constitutional order. 

At the end of July, the armed forces of Niger made public their decision to oust the country’s President, Mohamed Bazoum. They demand that the French, the former colonial power, leave their country. The coup was criticised by the heads of state of several countries in the West and the regional organisation ECOWAS. Early in August, delegates from ECOWAS came together to devise a strategy for a prospective military intervention in Niger.

Rissa Ag Boula, a wrestler from Niger, has started the formation of the Council of Resistance to the Republic (CRR). He and his supporters want to reinstate the authority of deposed pro-Western politician Mohamed Bazum, who presidential guards have detained at his apartment since July 26.

No one knows how much backing the CRR has, but the rebel leader has been part of uprisings in northern Niger outside the capital. Ag Boula was a crucial part of the Tuareg protests. The Tuareg are a nomadic people group. And he got a job in the government while Bazum was in charge. It’s clear why he wants to bring Bazum back, and his power will likely grow. Outside of the capital city Niamey, support for the CRR is considered high, especially among the Tuareg, who run most of the trade and politics in northern Niger. 

ECOWAS Troops Being Assembled

In response to the crisis in Niger, the Defence Chiefs Committee of ECOWAS has begun assembling reserve soldiers. Omar Alie Touré, the head of the commission for the community, issued the directive.

He said the authorities had entrusted the committee of defence chiefs with the responsibility of quickly activating the reserve forces with all their units.

In addition, Touré emphasised that the mission of the reserve units is to reestablish constitutional order in the country of Niger.

According to reports from the US media, rebels in Niger threatened Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland that they would execute the former president of Niger if the military of the US intervened in the country. They said that Bazoum was aware of the danger as well and had been briefed about it.

Anthony Blinken told the media that the US has informed the rebels in Niger that it will bring them in if there is a security crisis with former President Mohamed Bazum. Blinken told the press that the United States has made it very plain to the top military authorities that they will be held accountable if there is a problem with Bazum’s safety and well-being. He emphasised that he was concerned for Bazum’s well-being and his family.

At the beginning of August, senior military officials from ECOWAS member countries devised a plan for possible military intervention. They made it clear that they would not provide the new authorities in Niger with any information regarding the time or location of their attacks.

Situation in Niger

On July 26, members of the presidential guard of Niger’s armed forces, under the command of General Abdourahamane Tchiani, staged a coup d’état against the country’s government. The government was placed under a curfew, the constitution was suspended, and political party activity was outlawed after the announcements made by the military.

On July 28, General Tchiana was officially appointed to the position of head of the National Council for the Salvation of Niger.

In an address to the United States of America and the world community, President Mohamed Bazoum pleaded with them to help restore constitutional order in the country. The African Union and the United Nations both issued strong statements of condemnation following the coup. The Russian side has underlined their desire and hoped that the Niger President would be freed, and they have asked for caution from using force.

The rebels in Niger have chosen a new prime minister.


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