Niger Crisis: No Option Off The Table Including Force, Says Tinubu
The West African bloc ECOWAS on Thursday ordered the activation of a standby force for possible use against the junta that took power in Niger in July, saying it wanted a peaceful restoration of democracy but all options including force were on the table.
After a summit of its heads of state in the Nigerian capital Abuja, the bloc pledged to enforce sanctions, travel bans and asset freezes on those preventing the return to power of democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum.
“No option is taken off the table, including the use of force as a last resort,” said Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, the ECOWAS chair.
“I hope that through our collective effort we can bring about a peaceful resolution as a roadmap to restoring stability and democracy in Niger,” he said. “All is not lost yet.”
After Tinubu spoke, an official communique was read out which included a resolution asking the bloc’s defence chiefs to “activate the ECOWAS Standby Force with all its elements immediately”.
Another resolution spoke of ordering “the deployment of the ECOWAS Standby Force to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger”, immediately followed by another that spoke of restoring such order “through peaceful means”.
Security analysts say a regional force could take weeks or longer to assemble, potentially leaving room for negotiations.
The ECOWAS statement did not spell out how the force would be funded, which countries would participate or how many troops and what hardware they could contribute.
The junta in Niamey had defied an Aug. 6 deadline to stand down set by ECOWAS, instead closing Niger’s airspace and vowing to defend the country against any foreign attack.
ECOWAS accused the generals in charge in Niamey of “defiantly repelling” all the bloc’s attempts at diplomatic engagement and sought to project an image of resolution and unity.