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‘We stand for democracy’ — ECOWAS defence chiefs back dialogue to resolve Niger crisis

‘We stand for democracy’ — ECOWAS defence chiefs back dialogue to resolve Niger crisis
August 04
22:20 2023

The committee of chiefs of defence staff of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says interventions in the Niger Republic must encompass political, security and diplomatic dimensions.

The defence chiefs spoke on Friday at the end of their three-day extraordinary meeting in Abuja in reaction to concerns amid the deployment of force to deal with the political instability in the West African country.

Earlier, President Bola Tinubu, chairperson of ECOWAS, had written to the national assembly, seeking approval for military intervention in Niger.

The president said it was part of the bloc’s conclusions at the meeting held on Sunday in Abuja.


Tinubu’s move came amid calls from various countries, organisations, and concerned individuals against the use of force to intervene in another country’s political affairs.

ECOWAS had given the military junta in Niger a week from Sunday to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum or face harder sanctions.

Speaking on the issue, Christopher Musa, president of the ECOWAS defence chiefs, commended the bloc for standing firm for democracy, adding that the militaries of the member countries were firmly in support of their stand.


Musa, who is Nigeria’s chief of defence staff, said the committee collectively recognised the gravity of the situation in Niger and the urgent need for a well-coordinated response.

“We have also deliberated on the broader implication for democracy, peace and stability in West Africa and are pleased to note that our discussions have yielded valuable insights and actionable recommendations,” Musa said.

“We have acknowledged the need for a comprehensive approach that encompasses political, security and diplomatic dimensions.

“It is imperative that we translate our deliberations into concrete actions that effectively address the crisis and prevent a recurrence in the future.


“Democracy is what we stand for and democracy is what we will sustain.”

Musa said the coup in Niger represented blatant disregard for the fundamental principles that underpin regional integration and stability, and condemned the actions of his Nigerien counterparts.

According to the general, the defence chiefs had carefully analysed the situation and drawn up recommendations that could drive progress.

“We must intensify our diplomatic efforts to engage with all relevant stakeholders,” Musa said.


“Dialogue and negotiations should be at the forefront of our approach to resolving the crisis in the Republic of Niger.

“We must engage the traditional authorities, civil society organisations and all the key actors to foster an inclusive and peaceful transition process.


The defence chiefs urged member states to hasten the implementation of the recommendations and translate them into tangible actions for quick solutions to the situation in Niger.



Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs, peace and security, said all elements that would go into any intervention had been worked out and were being refined, including the timing, resources needed and how, where and when to deploy such force.

However, Musah said the use of force was its last resort, adding that the bloc was determined to explore every approach that would restore peace and stability to the region.


He asked the military junta in Niger to do the same.

“We are giving diplomacy every chance to succeed and there have been multiple approaches to the military junta in Niger,” the ECOWAS commissioner said.

“The results of whatever has been achieved here will be presented very soon to the heads of the central government who will have the last say as to what we are going to do about the situation in the Republic of Niger, provided that all diplomatic overtures do not yield result.

“So I want to, through this medium also appeal to the military in Niger to give peace a chance, and then think about their populations and do the right thing by immediately restoring constitutional order in their country.

“That is our message to them and if they don’t, then we will make them hand over to civilian authorities and that is the determination of ECOWAS and we want to send that message clearly across to all of them.”

Countries represented at the meeting included Togo, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Nigeria, Liberia, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde and Benin, while Niger, Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso were absent.

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