Abuja — In the face of opposition from notable Nigerians and organizations against the use of force in Niger Republic, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of State and Government have authorized the immediate deployment of a standby force to restore constitutional order in the country.
The ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) is a contingency arrangement consisting of military, police, and civilian components, in accordance with Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, which outlines regional peace and security initiatives.
The regional bloc has also appealed for support from partners, including the United Nations (UN), to facilitate the swift reinstatement of order in accordance with its established norms.
Meanwhile, the junta governing Niger has conveyed a warning to a senior United States diplomat that they would execute the deposed President, Mohamed Bazoum, if any ECOWAS member state attempted a military intervention to reinstate his leadership.
ECOWAS’s decision follows the establishment of a new government by the military junta, which appointed 21 cabinet ministers to serve alongside the newly appointed Prime Minister, Mahamane Roufai Laouali.
Prior to a closed-door session at the 2nd extraordinary summit held in Abuja, the ECOWAS Chairman and Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, initially emphasized a diplomatic approach and negotiations in handling the situation with the military junta.
However, following discussions during the summit, the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government issued a communique stating their resolution to deploy troops for the restoration of constitutional governance in Niger Republic.
The communique also underlined that all options remained open, but there would be consequences for individuals, entities, or member nations obstructing a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
In the backdrop of these developments, concerns have been raised about the treatment and safety of the detained former President Mohamed Bazoum and his family. The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has expressed apprehension about their living conditions and called for their immediate release.
Various Nigerian organizations, including the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Yoruba socio-political group Afenifere, have urged ECOWAS to prioritize diplomatic negotiations rather than military intervention in Niger’s political crisis.