Niger coup: Groups warn ECOWAS on danger of military intervention
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been urged to tread cautiously in its handling of the coup in Niger, which ousted democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum.
Following the seizure of power by Nigerien military leaders, ECOWAS had slammed sanctions on the country, issued a seven-day ultimatum for restoration of Bazoum as president, and threatened military action, in the event of non compliance.
But a civil society organisation, Egalitarian Mission for Africa (EMA), cautioned President Bola Tinubu and other African Heads of States, who are members of ECOWAS and the African Union (AU) against resorting to military operations in response to the takeover.
Director, Dr. Sadiq Kobu, while condemning the unconstitutional seizure of power, however, said: “Any military confrontation risks jeopardising the life of ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, who is currently being held as a bargaining chip by the coup makers.
This could escalate into internal conflict or even war between Niger and countries opposed to the coup.” He said: “Kinetic intervention should be a last resort due to the high-risk nature of such actions. The socio-economic and political environment in Niger remains fragile, with existing insecurity and mistrust between ethnic groups, making it imperative to handle the situation with utmost care and diplomatic tact.”
He added: “As the crisis unfolds, it is crucial for leaders to prioritise diplomacy, engage in dialogue, and seek peaceful resolutions, to restore democratic governance and stability in Niger. The support and collaboration of the international community will play a vital role in fostering a positive outcome for the nation and its people.”
Also, civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), advised ECOWAS against the proposed military intervention.
This was contained in a statement by National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko. He said: “Unconstitutional takeovers are illegal and anti-democratic, no doubt about that. HURIWA will never support military takeover of a constitutionally elected government, whether in Niger Republic or elsewhere.
“Having condemned the development in Niger, it is important to warn ECOWAS against the deployment of Nigerian soldiers to intervene, when we haven’t defeated terrorists within Nigeria. Any intervention, militarily, by Nigeria is a gamble we can’t afford, and the Niger case may become like how Vietnam dealt a deadly blow to United States forces in the late 60s.”
On his part, Secretary General, Coalition of Yoruba Self Determination Groups, Dr. Steve Abioye, said in a statement: ‘’The decision of ECOWAS to adopt military option to force out the new military junta in Niger Republic is a dangerous one that could be very catastrophic and devastating to the West Africa sub-region, especially Nigeria, and President Tinubu, who is also the Chairman of ECOWAS, should tread softly on this.”
He added: ‘’The Nigerien saga goes beyond Niger as a country. The entire scenario appears as if it has been turned into a chess game of international politics between Russia and its allies on one side and the West (U.S., NATO and their allies) on the other side.”
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