ECOWAS yet to foreclose military intervention in Niger

The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, said Monday it has not foreclosed the use military force to restore constitutional order in Niger Republic.

This comes after the military junta, led by Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani insisted on his three-year transition plan before returning the country to civil rule.

ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, Ambassador Abdel-Fatau Musah, on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme, also dismissed insinuations that ECOWAS was acting under the influence of a foreign power.

He explained that the Community’s chances of using military force to restore constitutional order in Niger were very likely because from the 1960s, coups have enjoyed continuous support from the people.

He added that the support can be engineered by renting crowds; but that does not imply that people are unconcerned about their future.

Musah emphasised that the high level of youth unemployment and mismanagement of resources is a factor for the support. But doubted if the military is a better sort of governance for the economy since empirical data in the region never demonstrate that.

“A few years ago, you could not even talk of an incumbent president being defeated in an election.

“Since about 1992, we have seen alternations of power where sitting presidents were defeated and where ruling parties were defeated, whether in Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, or even Liberia. So there’s already progress”, the ECOWAS Commissioner stated.

He said the junta came without a plan to restore the country but are just embarking on a blind experiment, saying they are going to have a three-year transition.

He added that before the coup, ECOWAS had identified the cascading terrorism moving from Burkina Faso to coastal countries as an existential trend that threatened the livelihood of West African citizens and was an impediment to economic development.

In terms of ECOWAS reinstating constitutional order, it starts with consultation with all the active forces in the country, including political parties, the labour movement, and civil society organizations, Musah explained.

He further noted that at the regional level, ECOWAS is already in the process of developing the economic and social council, which is the interface between civil society and policymaking in the region.

He said the main driving slogan of ECOWAS is transforming the region from an ECOWAS of States, driven by the decisions of Heads of State to an ECOWAS of the people.

Asked on a scale of 1-10 how likely ECOWAS would deploy force in Niger, Amb Musah said: “Personaly, my wish is that it should be at zero, but I think given the posture of the regime, I will put it at 7, because if they continue to frustrate the non-violent proposal to reinstate constitutional order and then give an unacceptable timetable for return to constitutional order, they make the use of force more likely”.

He added that: “ECOWAS is asking for the release of Bazoum and his reinstatement. So we are calling on the junta to be reasonable because the three years they are talking about are nothing less than a provocation to the ECOWAS community”.

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