June 25, 2024

Central News

at the center of it

Niger debacle worsens

… ECOWAS orders use of force

… Junta adamant, forms govt

Trouble in Nigeria’s northern neighbor Niger Republic has worsened, with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ordering possible military action against coupists and the junta forming a new government.

Expectations on Thursday when ECOWAS leaders met in Abuja Nigeria at a special summit were the sub-regional group would seek to continue dialoguing with Niger soldiers, but they instead defied that hope and announced the formation of a new government.

An obviously angry ECOWAS leadership rose from the Abuja meeting and directed immediate activation of the use of force against the Niger Republic military junta. They have also called on the African Union (AU) partner-countries and institutions to support the resolution taken by the sub-regional body.

ECOWAS says all efforts made to dialogue with Niger military junta have been defiantly rejected by coup leaders as they condemn continuous detention of President Mohamed Bazoum and his family members.

The resolution by ECOWAS leaders was reached at the extra-ordinary aummit on the political situation in Niger Republic, attended by eight leaders of member-countries and foreign ministers of Liberia and The Gambia, ended in Abuja.

President of Mauritania Mohamed Ould Ghazouani and his Burundian counterpart, Everiste Ndayishimiye, attended the second ECOWAS extra-ordinary summit on Niger Republic on invitation of their colleagues.

Earlier in the day before the Abuja meeting began, the Niger Republic military junta announced it had formed a cabinet, days after sacking the democratically-elected government of Mohamed Bazoum.

Making the announcement in a televised broadcast on Wednesday night, Mahamane Roufai Laouali, who is cited as ‘secretary general of the government’ read out the names of 21 ministers without detailing further plans.

Among the cabinet are three of the coup leaders who were named ministers of defence, interior and sports. The government, which is about half the size of the previous one, will be headed by Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, who was named prime minister on Tuesday.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and chairman of the authority of Heads of state and Government of the Economic Community of the ECOWAS leaders will be considering and discussing the political situation and recent developments in Niger during the summit,” ECOWAS had said in a statement on Monday.

ECOWAS had given the junta a seven-day ultimatum to reinstate ousted Bazoum or risk intervention of whatever form. Since the expiration of ECOWAS’s deadline on Sunday, unheeded, there has been uncertainty on the bloc’s possible military intervention to restore democracy in the country.

The regional body’s suggestion of military force, even as a last resort, has been met with backlash from certain foreign countries, global organisations, and concerned individuals.

Indeed before the Abuja summit opened, Thursday, Tinubu in a 10-paragraph opening remarks encouraged West African leaders and their invited guest-leaders not to foreclose the option of dialogue.

He said: “In reaffirming our relentless commitment to democracy, human rights, and the well-being of the people of Niger, it is crucial that we prioritize diplomatic negotiations.”

“We must engage all parties involved, including the coup leaders, in earnest discussions to convince them to relinquish power and reinstate President Bazoum. It is our duty to exhaust all avenues of engagement to ensure a swift return to constitutional governance in Niger,” the Nigerian president had said.

It is noted that the coupists have shunnes almost every opportunity for dialogue with the regional leaders, but Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani on Wednesday met with former Emir of Kano-Nigeria Lamido Sanusi, an ally of President Tinubu, and later briefed the Nigerian leader about his visit.

However, most Nigerians, including the parliament, trational and religious leaders have opposed the use in force in Niger and called for more dialogue. On Wednesday, the highly influential Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), also called for the reversal of the sanctions on Niger.