The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS has warned the military junta in Niger Republic that if diplomacy fails, it will invade the country.
According to a report by Vanguard yesterday, ECOWAS speaking in Accra, Ghana said that it will not hesitate to invade Niger Republic.
This came as the German government said it is in support of sanctions imposed on the military junta in the country by the European Union, EU.
It will be recalled that ECOWAS Heads of State and Government had at its second extraordinary summit in Abuja last week, activated its standing force should the junta in Niger refuse to restore to power ousted president of the country, Mohamed Bazoum.
The threat came as defence chiefs of member states met in the Ghanaian capital to strategise on the next line of action on Niger and discuss details of the standby force. The meeting continues today.
“Let no one be in doubt that if everything else fails, the valiant forces of West Africa…are ready to answer to the call of duty.
“By all means available, constitutional order will be restored in the country,” ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, said.
He listed past ECOWAS deployments in Sierra Leone, Liberia and elsewhere as examples of readiness for military action.
Musah rejected the accusation that ECOWAS is being manipulated by France or any other outside power.
“What they forget is that ECOWAS is a rules-based organisation. We have our protocols, we have our norms and we are ready to protect them.
“That’s why the Heads of State are saying if push comes to shove, we are going into Niger with our own contingents, own equipment and our own resources to make sure we restore constitutional order. If other democracy-loving partners want to support us, they are welcome,” he said.
Musah accused the Niger coup leaders of “playing cat-and-mouse” with ECOWAS by refusing to meet with its envoys and seeking justifications for their takeover of power.
He said most of the bloc’s 15 member states are prepared to participate in the standby force that could intervene in Niger, noting, however, that the exceptions are those also under military rule, including Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and tiny Cape Verde.
He criticised the junta’s announcement that it had elements to put Bazoum, who is being detained, on trial for treason.
The United Nations, European Union and ECOWAS have all expressed concern over the conditions of his detention.
“The irony of it is that somebody who is in a hostage situation himself…is being charged with treason. When he committed that high treason is everybody’s guess,” Musah said.
Niger has strategic importance beyond West Africa because of its role as a hub for foreign troops involved in the fight against Islamist insurgents in the Sahel region and its uranium and oil reserves.
Western countries fear the junta could follow the lead of neighbouring Mali, where the military government threw out French troops and instead invited in mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner group, which has welcomed the coup in Niger.
There had been very stout opposition from both individuals and groups, especially in Northern Nigeria, against military invasion of Niger Republic.