ECOWAS Deploys Standby Force to Niger Republic Amid Rising Tensions and Coup Threats

In a significant move, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of State and Government have taken action by ordering the immediate deployment of a standby force to Niger Republic, despite facing opposition from eminent individuals and groups advocating against the use of force to counter the coupists.

The deployment of the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) comes as a response to the ongoing political turmoil in Niger Republic, where a military coup has disrupted the constitutional order. This standby arrangement consists of military, police, and civilian components, in accordance with Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, which emphasizes regional peace and security cooperation.

ECOWAS has also called upon its partners, including the United Nations (UN), to support its efforts in swiftly restoring constitutional order in Niger. This decision comes on the heels of a junta warning, reportedly delivered to a high-ranking United States diplomat, that the deposed President, Mohamed Bazoum, would be killed if any military intervention by ECOWAS countries were attempted.

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The military junta, which recently formed a new government and appointed 21 cabinet ministers, conveyed this grave threat to U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. This development highlights the delicate and volatile situation in Niger, prompting ECOWAS to take a strong stance.

During an extraordinary summit, ECOWAS leaders reiterated their commitment to democratic principles, peace, and stability in the region. They emphasized the importance of diplomatic negotiations and dialogue to resolve the crisis in Niger and promote a peaceful return to constitutional governance. The summit’s discussions culminated in the decision to deploy the ECOWAS Standby Force, indicating the regional body’s determination to restore order.

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Chairman of ECOWAS and Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, initially expressed the organization’s intent to pursue diplomatic approaches and negotiations with the military junta. However, the need for decisive action prevailed, as ECOWAS resolved to deploy troops to reinstate constitutional government in Niger.

The communique released following the summit outlined key points:

  1. ECOWAS urges partner countries and institutions, including the United Nations, to support the restoration of constitutional order.

  2. The committee and its Chief of Defence Staff are directed to activate the ECOWAS standby force immediately.

  3. The ECOWAS standby force will be deployed to restore constitutional order in Niger Republic.

  4. ECOWAS asserts its commitment to keeping all options on the table for the peaceful resolution of the crisis.

  5. Measures, including border closures, travel bans, and assets freezes, will be enforced against individuals or groups hindering peaceful efforts for restoration.

  6. Member states obstructing the peaceful resolution of the crisis in Niger will face consequences within the ECOWAS community.

  7. The African Union is called upon to endorse all decisions made by the ECOWAS authority regarding the situation in Niger.

The summit’s closing remarks emphasized the importance of dialogue and peaceful resolutions, underlining the collective responsibility of ECOWAS members to ensure stability and prosperity in Niger and the West African region as a whole.

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