The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff met in Accra, Ghana, yesterday to discuss the political situation in the Republic of Niger, with the intention of activating its standby force to intervene militarily if diplomatic attempts fail.
Except for nations under military rule and Cape Verde, all member governments have promised to participate in the standby force.
The Niger junta has refused to reinstate former President Mohamed Bazoum, despite requests from the UN, ECOWAS, and Western powers.
Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Gwabin Musa, noted: “Democracy is what we stand for and it’s what we encourage. The focus of our gathering is not simply to react to events, but to proactively chart a course that results in peace and promotes stability.”
He stated that the Defence Chiefs were gathered in circumstances that none of them would have preferred and that the coup in the Republic of Niger has been a source of great concern, not only for ECOWAS, but for all who believe in the ideals of democracy, stability, and the rule of law.
“It is a poignant reminder of the challenges we face as a region, and the urgent need to stand together in unity and solidarity.
“As we continue our deliberations today, I would like to remind us all that the purpose of our gathering is not simply to react to events, but to proactively chart a course that preserves peace, promotes stability, and upholds democratic principles across our region. We must remember that our collective actions today will shape the legacy we leave for future generations.
“The path that lies before us is not an easy one, but it is a path that we must tread, nonetheless, with courage and determination. As we grapple with the complexities of the situation in the Republic of Niger, let us not forget that at the heart of our discussions are the lives of millions of people who yearn for peace, stability, and progress. We must not allow the people of Niger to suffer needlessly.”
Musa further stated that the responsibility of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff was to guarantee that their reactions to the crisis were led by values of justice, respect for human rights, and steadfast devotion to the rule of law, rather than fear.
“Let no one be in doubt that if everything else fails, the valiant forces of West Africa are ready to answer the call of duty, constitutional order will be restored in the country by all means available,” ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security Abdel-Fatau Musah stated.
He cited previous ECOWAS deployments in Gambia, Liberia, and other countries as indications of readiness.
Dominic Nitiwul, Minister of Defence, Republic of Ghana, stated that the security of the ECOWAS sub-region was experiencing one of the most difficult periods since the 1990s when rebel incursions destabilized areas of the ECOWAS sub-region.
Meanwhile, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has backed ECOWAS and the African Union’s activities in response to the coup in Niger Republic.
Humphrey Geiseb, the High Commissioner of Namibia to Nigeria and the Dean of the SADC, revealed this yesterday while speaking with journalists at Hope of Survival Orphanage Home in Abuja.
In response to the coup and ECOWAS’s attitude, Geiseb stated that the Southern African region is peaceful, adding, “We hold regular elections and democracy is strong in our region.”
The ambassador stated that the Southern African region is a member of the African Union and that whatever happens in other parts of the African continent has an indirect impact on SADC.
“Southern Africa is a member of the African Union, and the concerns and feelings about coup situations have been expressed by ECOWAS, a regional body similar to the Southern Africa Development Community, as well as by the African Union.” As a result, we totally support ECOWAS and the African Union’s comments and views,” he stated.