Despite facing opposition from prominent Nigerians and various groups regarding the use of force against the coup leaders in Niger Republic, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of State and Government have taken the decisive step of ordering the immediate deployment of a standby force. This force aims to reinstate constitutional order within the country.
The ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) constitutes a ready-to-act collaboration encompassing military, police, and civilian components. This structure adheres to the principles outlined in Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, which underscores the importance of regional mechanisms for maintaining peace and security.
Simultaneously, ECOWAS has extended its call to international partners, including the United Nations (UN), soliciting support to expedite the restoration of order in line with the organization’s established norms.
However, the junta, currently in control in Niger, has issued a stern warning to a high-ranking United States diplomat, asserting their intent to execute deposed President Mohamed Bazoum should any ECOWAS member countries initiate military intervention to restore his presidency.
ECOWAS’s decision to deploy the standby force follows closely on the heels of the junta’s formation of a new government. This administration includes 21 cabinet ministers, all operating under the newly appointed Prime Minister, Mahamane Roufai Laouali. Notably, this development occurred shortly after the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, cautioned against any military intervention within Niger.
Before convening for a closed-door session during the 2nd extraordinary summit held in Abuja, the Chairman of ECOWAS and Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, had initially expressed a preference for diplomatic measures and negotiations in addressing the situation involving the military junta.
Emerging from this session, the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government released a communiqué detailing their resolution to deploy troops for the purpose of reinstating a constitutional government in Niger Republic. While affirming their commitment to keeping diplomatic avenues open, they also indicated that there would be repercussions for individuals, entities, or member countries obstructing the peaceful resolution of the crisis.
The communique specifically denounces the conditions of President Bazoum’s detainment, placing full responsibility on the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) for the safety and well-being of President Bazoum, his family members, and his government.
Additionally, the statement underscores the enforcement of all previously agreed-upon measures and principles established during the extraordinary summit held on July 30, 2023. ECOWAS emphasizes its determination to explore all available peaceful options for resolving the ongoing crisis, including the implementation of measures such as border closures, rigorous travel bans, and asset freezes targeting individuals or groups obstructing the complete reinstatement of constitutional order.