Emily Johnson
Sun, Aug 13, 2023 10:35 AM

ECOWAS Mission to Niger: Last-Ditch Effort to Restore Civilian Rule

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ECOWAS Mission to Niger: Last-Ditch Effort to Restore Civilian Rule
West Africa's ECOWAS bloc is planning to send a parliamentary committee to Niger in a last-ditch effort to restore civilian rule after the recent military coup. The coup leaders have rejected diplomatic efforts, raising concerns about further conflict in the region. The role of global powers with strategic interests in West and Central Africa, such as Russia, is also at stake. This article explores the potential implications of ECOWAS' mission and the growing influence of Russia in the region.

West Africa's ECOWAS bloc is making a final attempt to restore civilian rule in Niger following the recent military coup. The region's parliamentary committee plans to visit Niger in hopes of engaging with the coup leaders and finding a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

The military coup, led by General Abdourahamane Tiani, resulted in the imprisonment of President Mohamed Bazoum and the dissolution of the elected government. This triggered condemnation from regional powers, including ECOWAS, who have activated a standby military force as a last resort if diplomatic efforts fail.

However, the coup leaders have so far rejected diplomatic efforts by ECOWAS, the United States, and other international actors. This rejection raises concerns about the potential for further conflict in the already turbulent Sahel region, which is grappling with a deadly Islamist insurgency.

Not only does the fate of Niger hang in the balance, but the influence of rival global powers in West and Central Africa is also at stake. This region has witnessed multiple coups in recent years, creating a power vacuum that international actors are keen to exploit.

The presence of U.S., French, German, and Italian troops in Niger highlights the strategic importance of the country in the fight against Islamist militant groups. Local affiliates of al Qaeda and Islamic State have already caused significant damage, resulting in thousands of deaths and displacing millions of people.

Russian influence in the region has been growing as insecurity increases and democracy erodes. In times of crisis, leaders often seek new partners to restore order, and Russia has been actively positioning itself as an alternative ally.

The ECOWAS parliament recently met to discuss further action in Niger. While no decision was made, a committee was established with the aim of meeting Nigerian President Bola Tinubu to gain permission for the mission. Additionally, a group of prominent Nigerian Islamic scholars received the green light from Tinubu to intervene in Niger, potentially acting as intermediaries to resolve the diplomatic deadlock.

Western powers, alarmed by the growing Russian influence, fear that the junta in Niger may follow in the footsteps of neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso. These countries expelled the troops of their former colonial power, France, after their respective coups. Mali has since formed ties with Russian private military contractor Wagner Group, coinciding with a surge in violence. The expulsion of a United Nations peacekeeping force also raises concerns about further conflict.

However, the situation remains complex. Thousands of demonstrators in Niger's capital, Niamey, recently showed support for the coup outside a French military base, expressing anti-French sentiment and displaying pro-Russian signs.

Regional army chiefs are scheduled to meet soon to discuss the potential intervention. The size and timeline of the ECOWAS force, should they choose to invade, remain uncertain. Some countries have expressed a preference for diplomacy, while Russia has explicitly warned against military action.

The African Union, European Union, United States, and United Nations have all voiced concerns over President Bazoum's detention. The UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, stated that conditions are rapidly deteriorating and may constitute a violation of international human rights law.

The ECOWAS mission to Niger represents a final effort to restore civilian rule and prevent further escalation of the crisis. The outcome will not only impact the stability of Niger but will also shape the influence of global powers in the region.

Source of content: OOO News 2023-08-13 News

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