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ECOWAS orders standby force against Niger junta

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The Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) has ordered its standby force to restore constitutional order in the Niger Republic.

ECOWAS President, Omar Alieu Touray, made the declaration while reading the resolution of ECOWAS on the Niger coup at the ECOWAS Extraordinary meeting in Abuja on Thursday.

The sub-regional group also called on the African Union, AU, partner countries, and institutions to support the resolution taken by the sub-regional body.

ECOWAS said all efforts made to dialogue with Niger Republic military junta have been defiantly rejected by coup leaders as they condemn the continuous detention of President Mohamed Bazoum and his family members.

The resolution partly reads, “Direct the committee of the Chief of Defence Staff to activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its elements immediately.

“Order the deployment of the ECOWAS stand-by force to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.

“Underscore its continued commitment to the restoration of constitutional order through peaceful means”.

Earlier, the Chairman of Authority of Heads of State and Government of the the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), President Bola Tinubu has said that the regional bloc would continue to champion diplomacy and dialogue, as well as earnest discussions with all parties involved, to restore constitutional governance in the Republic of Niger.

At the opening of the second Extraordinary Summit on the socio-political situation in the Republic of Niger, he said: “In reaffirming our relentless commitment to democracy, human rights, and the well-being of the people of Niger, it is crucial that we prioritize diplomatic negotiations and dialogue as the bedrock of our approach. We must engage all parties involved, including the coup leaders, in earnest discussions to convince them to relinquish power and reinstate President Bazoum. It is our duty to exhaust all avenues of engagement to ensure a swift return to constitutional governance in Niger”.

Underscoring the significance of the meeting, President Tinubu stressed the importance of a comprehensive evaluation of progress thus far.

”More specifically, as leaders of our respective nations, we must recognize that the political crisis in Niger not only poses a threat to the stability of the nation but also has far-reaching implications for the entire West African region.

”By remaining steadfast in our adherence to the principles of democracy, good governance, and the rule of law, we can restore peace, stability, and prosperity in the Republic of Niger, thereby fostering an environment conducive to growth and development for all”, he said.

Building upon commitments from the initial Extraordinary Summit held in Abuja 10 days ago, President Tinubu recollected the ECOWAS leaders’ collective condemnation of the military coup that toppled Niger’s democratically elected government.

Highlighting the firm and coordinated efforts already undertaken, the President outlined ECOWAS’ deployment of mediation teams and Special Envoys to engage with key stakeholders within and beyond the region.

The Nigerian leader also pointed to the recent meeting of ECOWAS Chiefs of Defense Staff, the meeting of the Chiefs of Staffs Committee and the ECOWAS Commission’s memorandum on current developments in Niger as crucial sources of insight to guide the decisions of the Heads of State and Government at the meeting.

“Today’s Summit provides a significant opportunity to meticulously review and assess the progress made since our last gathering. It is essential to evaluate the effectiveness of our interventions and identify any gaps or challenges that may have hindered progress. It is only through this comprehensive assessment that we can collectively chart a new sustainable path towards lasting peace, stability, and prosperity in Niger”, President Tinubu emphasised.

He expressed confidence that the 2nd ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit would be a defining moment in the journey towards a stronger, more resilient, and integrated West Africa. He, therefore, rallied fellow leaders to seize this opportunity to make a lasting impact on the lives of Africans by fostering a future characterized by peace, progress, and prosperity.

The Nigerian leader affirmed the regional blocs’ steadfast commitment in supporting the people of Niger Republic in the journey towards peace and democratic stability.

President Tinubu expressed his appreciation for member states’ dedication toward all efforts in resolving the challenges of Niger.

He emphasised that the remarkable outcome of the summit, which authorized the standby deployment of ECOWAS troops to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger, attests to the power of collaboration and unity among ECOWAS member states.

“We have reaffirmed our commitment to the people of Niger and to the progress of our entire ECOWAS Community. We will continue with that. From the Communiqué of this extraordinary summit, no option is taken off the table, including the use of force as the last resort. If we don’t do it, no one else will do it for us. We remain steadfast in supporting Niger in a journey towards peace and democratic stability.

“The road ahead will undoubtedly have challenges, but I firmly believe that with our collective resolve, we can navigate these obstacles and chart a path towards peace and prosperity for Nigeriens and citizens of ECOWAS. May our collective efforts pave the way for a brighter future for the Nigerien people and for all Africans. May ECOWAS continue to thrive as a beacon of unity, cooperation, and progress in the region”, the ECOWAS Authority Chairman firmly stated.

At the end of the summit, the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State issued a unanimous directive to restore constitutional order in Niger Republic.

A communique, read by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Omar Touray stated that the leaders directed the Committee of the Chiefs of Defence Staff to activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its elements immediately.

The leaders also issued a stern warning to member states whose actions, whether direct or indirect, impede the peaceful resolution of the Niger crisis. The communique emphasized that such actions would entail consequences within the ECOWAS community.

Underscoring its continued commitment to restoring constitutional order through peaceful means, the leaders noted that all diplomatic efforts made by ECOWAS in resolving the crisis have been repelled at various intervals by the military rulership of the Republic of Niger.

As the one-week ultimatum for the restoration of constitutional order expired, the ECOWAS Authority reiterated its strong condemnation of the attempted coup d’etat and the continued illegal detention of President Mohammed Bazoom, his family and members of his government.

It further condemned the condition in which President Bazoum is being detained and holds the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) fully and solely responsible for the safety, security and physical integrity of President Bazoum, and members of his family and government.

The regional leaders upheld all measures and principles agreed upon by the Extraordinary Summit held on Niger Republic on 30th July, and underscores the determination of the ECOWAS Authority to keep all options on the table for the peaceful resolution of the crisis.

They also agreed to enforce all measures, in particular, border closures and strict travel bans as well as assets freezes on all persons or groups of individuals whose actions hinder all peaceful efforts aimed at ensuring the smooth and complete restoration of Niger’s constitutional order.

Furthermore, the West African leaders called on the African Union to endorse their decisions on the Niger crisis while also urging partner countries and institutions, including the United Nations, to support ECOWAS in its efforts to ensure a quick restoration of constitutional order in Niger Republic.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission was further tasked with overseeing the implementation of sanctions stemming from the initial Extraordinary meeting in Abuja.

The opening ceremony was attended by the Presidents of Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Cote ‘d’ Ivoire, Ghana, Benin, Sierra Leone, and Togo, while Liberia and the Gambia were represented by their Foreign Ministers.

Non-ECOWAS leaders, such as the Mauritanian and Burundian presidents, also attended.

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