The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has received a significant show of solidarity from the military of 10 out of the 15 member states, signaling a collective effort to reinstate democratic governance in the Republic of Niger. Following an emergency summit of ECOWAS Heads of government, Defence Chiefs were directed to activate a standby force, should the situation require it.
The urgent action comes after the abrupt removal of President Mohamed Bazoum from office on July 26 by a military junta led by General Abdourahamane Tchiani.
The military’s refusal to heed ECOWAS’ one-week ultimatum to reinstate President Bazoum prompted the regional body to muster support from its member states.
The commitment to a standby force was confirmed during a meeting in Ghana, where ECOWAS commissioner Abdel-Fatau Musah asserted that if all else fails, the armed forces of West Africa stand ready to restore constitutional order.
This resolve was bolstered by the participation pledge of all member states except those under military rule and Cape Verde, according to international news agency Reuters.
The sentiment of upholding democracy was echoed by Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Gwabin Musa, who emphasized the focus on proactive measures to ensure peace and stability in the region.
In a bid to escalate pressure, the African Union (AU) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) also supported ECOWAS’ stance. The SADC, composed of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, DR Congo, South Africa, Angola, Tanzania, and Namibia, expressed its backing for ECOWAS’ actions to restore power to President Bazoum.
Humphrey Geiseb, the High Commissioner of Namibia to Nigeria and Dean of the SADC, affirmed that the Southern African region aligns with ECOWAS and the AU in advocating for democracy and peaceful transitions of power across the continent. Geiseb highlighted the interconnectedness of African regional bodies and emphasized the importance of continuity in democratic governance.
In a display of goodwill and solidarity, the SADC also donated food items to an orphanage in Abuja, Nigeria, reinforcing the bonds of friendship between Southern African countries and the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Proprietress of the orphanage, Mrs. Ruth Ibrahim, expressed gratitude for the gesture, emphasizing the need for assistance in supporting the education of the orphaned children.
As ECOWAS marshals its efforts to restore democracy in Niger, the support of regional partners and military cooperation signal a resolute commitment to upholding democratic principles in the face of political challenges.