West African bloc activates regional standby force for possible intervention in Niger coup

By Xinhua
On 11 August 2023 at 04:15

The 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Thursday said it has resolved to activate its standby force in response to the recent coup in Niger while underscoring its continued commitment to restore constitutional order in the country through peaceful means.

In a statement at the end of an extraordinary summit in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, the regional bloc reiterates its strong condemnation of the coup in Niger, saying it upholds all measures and principles agreed upon by the urgent ECOWAS summit on July 30.

The ECOWAS leaders "direct the (ECOWAS) committee of the Chiefs of Defense Staff to activate its standby force with all its elements immediately," and be ready for the deployment of the ECOWAS standby force to restore the constitutional order in Niger, said the statement.

The bloc also said it would enforce all sanction measures, in particular border closures and strict travel bans, on all individuals or groups whose actions hinder peaceful efforts to restore constitutional order in Niger.

The ECOWAS said all options are on the table for the peaceful resolution of the crisis, and warned member states against "directly or indirectly hinder(ing) the peaceful resolution of the crisis."

This move by the West African bloc to mobilize the regional standby force followed the refusal of Niger’s military junta to cede power to ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.

The primary objective of the regional standby force is to restore stability and order while facilitating the return to constitutional governance in Niger, Omar Alieu Touray, president of the ECOWAS Commission, told reporters during a briefing in Abuja.

The military in Niger detained Bazoum on July 26 and chose Abdourahamane Tchiani, former leader of the country’s presidential guard, to lead the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland, a governing body established by the soldiers after the coup, which has been since exercising legislative and executive authority.

The coup, the third of its kind in West Africa in three years, has drawn condemnation from many African countries, which view the unconstitutional change of power as a threat to stability and development on the continent. The international community fears instability in the Sahel region would breed extremism.

The ECOWAS comprises Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.