The Economic Community of West African States Authority of Heads of State and Government, on Sunday, in Abuja, issued a 7-day ultimatum to the Niger Republic military to release and reinstate President Mohammed Bazoum as the legitimate Head of State and government of the landlocked state.
But in a swift reaction, the Niger putschists rejected the call and warned ECOWAS against military intervention, saying, “We want to once more remind ECOWAS or any other adventurer of our firm determination to defend our homeland.”
ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government held an extraordinary meeting on Sunday at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja, to discuss the next line of action on the developments in Niger Republic. Recognising Bazoum as the legitimate President, the bloc rehashed its earlier resolution to explore “all measures necessary” to restore democratic governance in Niger.
“Such measures may include the use of force. To this effect, the Chiefs of Defence Staff of ECOWAS are to meet immediately,” President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, said when he read a communique at the end of the Extraordinary Summit on the ‘Socio-Political Situation in the Republic of Niger.’
The PUNCH reported that members of the Nigerien Presidential Guard detained President Bazoum and later declared General Abdourahamane Tchiani as the nation’s new leader. Tchiani, who has headed the Presidential Guard since 2011, said he was the new “President of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland.”
The military also issued a warning about “the consequences that will flow from any foreign military intervention,” saying, “Certain dignitaries…are in thinking of confrontation,” which “will end in nothing but the massacre of the Nigerien population and chaos.”
But reading the communique of ECOWAS leaders on Sunday, Touray said the bloc had resolved to recognise “only official acts of President Bazoum or his duly mandated officials, reject any form of resignation that may purportedly come from him and considered the illegal detention of President Bazoum, as a hostage situation.”
Aside from the seven-day ultimatum, the ECOWAS Authority at the Summit also imposed immediate sanctions on Niger, including the closure of land and air borders between member-states and Niger. They also imposed a no-fly zone on the Niger Republic and suspended all commercial flights to and from Niger. They also suspended financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Niger. Furthermore, assets of the Republic of Niger in the ECOWAS Central Bank, Niger state enterprises, and parastatals in commercial banks will be frozen. Niger will also be suspended from all financial assistance and transactions with financial institutions within the ECOWAS.
Therefore, ECOWAS called on the West African Monetary Union and other similar regional bodies to implement these resolutions. Additionally, the bloc imposed immediate travel bans and froze the assets of the military officials involved in the coup attempt, their family members, and civilians who agreed to participate in any institution or government established by the Tchiani-led regime.
Touray revealed that the Authority of Heads of State had appointed and dispatched a special representative of the chair of the authority to Niger immediately to deliver its demands. In his remarks, Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, the Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, called for swift implementation of these resolutions, demanding that the coup plotters “surrender and return to their barracks”.
“Our message is clear and unequivocal: the coup plotters in Niger must surrender, return to their barracks, and allow the popular will of the people to stand and thrive without let or hindrance. They bear full responsibility for any breakdown of law and order, including the current atmosphere of fear and uncertainty in the country that has arisen from the military takeover.
“The decisions and recommendations made today (Sunday) and their faithful implementation by all, including the unwavering support of the international community, will serve as the bedrock upon which we can build a brighter future for Niger and the entire region,” Tinubu said.
Sunday’s meeting is at the behest of President Tinubu, who also held bilateral meetings with President Umaro Embalo of Guinea Bissau, President Iddris Deby of Chad and the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of African Affairs, Michael Health.
Present were Presidents Patrice Talon of Benin Republic, Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire, Adama Barrow of The Gambia, Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, Umaro Embalo of Guinea Bissau, Macky Sall of Senegal, and Faure Gnassingbé of Togo. Presidents of Cape Verde, Liberia, Niger and Sierra Leone were represented. But rejecting ECOWAS call, Niger’s military leaders warned against any military intervention in a statement read on Niger national television. “The objective of the ECOWAS meeting is to approve a plan of aggression against Niger through an imminent military intervention in Niamey in collaboration with other African countries that are non-members of ECOWAS, and certain Western countries,” Aljazeera quoted the military spokesperson, Col. Amadou Abdramane, to have said.