Emily Wilson
Thu, Aug 10, 2023 2:55 PM

Emergency Summit on Niger Coup: ECOWAS Leaders Gather to Address Crisis

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Emergency Summit on Niger Coup: ECOWAS Leaders Gather to Address Crisis
Leaders from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are set to convene an emergency summit in Abuja to discuss the recent coup in Niger. The military chiefs responsible for the coup have defied calls to reinstate the elected president, prompting ECOWAS to explore both diplomatic and potential military solutions. This gathering is expected to yield important decisions regarding the crisis. The possibility of military intervention has raised concerns within ECOWAS and neighboring countries, with some warning of dire consequences. The coup leaders' rejection of a joint delegation has added complexity to the situation. In a surprising twist, a former Nigerian emir has disclosed his mediation efforts with the coup leaders. The detention and reportedly deplorable living conditions of President Bazoum have also drawn international attention. This coup is the fifth in Niger's history, intensifying calls for an end to such unconstitutional seizures of power.

Leaders from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are set to gather on Thursday in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, for an emergency summit to address the recent coup in Niger. The military chiefs responsible for toppling President Mohamed Bazoum have thus far disregarded calls to restore the elected leader, prompting ECOWAS to explore diplomatic and, if necessary, military solutions to resolve the crisis.

ECOWAS, consisting of 15 member nations, has taken a strong stance against the wave of coups plaguing the region since 2020. In an attempt to halt this dangerous trend, the bloc issued an ultimatum to the coup leaders on July 26, giving them until last Sunday to reinstate President Bazoum or face potential military intervention.

Unfortunately, the coup leaders remained defiant, and the deadline passed without any sign of compliance. The military intervention in Niger, if eventually carried out, could have dire consequences for the already fragile nation, which is among the world's poorest.

The emergency summit in Abuja is expected to yield crucial decisions regarding the crisis in Niger. ECOWAS, in a statement released on Tuesday, confirmed that important discussions would take place during the gathering. The bloc has explicitly stated that it seeks a diplomatic resolution but has not ruled out the use of force.

The possibility of military intervention in Niger has triggered debates within ECOWAS itself. It has also raised concerns among neighboring countries like Mali and Burkina Faso, both currently under military rule due to recent coups. These nations argue that any intervention in Niger would be akin to a declaration of war on their own countries.

Attempts at mediation have faced roadblocks as well. The coup leaders rejected a proposed joint team comprising representatives from ECOWAS, the United Nations, and the African Union. This rejection further complicated the search for a peaceful resolution.

In an unexpected twist, the former emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, revealed that he had engaged in discussions with the coup leaders in an attempt to mediate the crisis. Although not an official government emissary, Sanusi—a close friend of Nigerian President Bola Tinubu—expressed hope that his interactions with General Abdourahamane Tiani, the coup leader, could pave the way for meaningful discussions between the leaders of Niger and Nigeria.

President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea-Bissau, the current chair of ECOWAS, emphasizes the high stakes involved in addressing the frequent coups within the region. With four member states, including Niger, having experienced coups, President Embalo asserts that the future of ECOWAS is at risk if this unconstitutional seizure of power is not swiftly addressed and halted.

While ECOWAS leaders grapple with finding a solution, concerns about the well-being of President Bazoum continue to grow. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres denounced the reported deplorable living conditions endured by the 63-year-old leader since his detention. According to CNN, Bazoum is reportedly being held in isolation and forced to consume meager rations of dry rice and pasta.

It is crucial to note that the coup in Niger occurs within the context of a jihadist insurgency prevalent in the Sahel region. Originating in northern Mali in 2012, the insurgency has since spread to Niger and Burkina Faso. It now poses a growing security threat along the Gulf of Guinea.

Bazoum's presidency, which began in 2021, had solidified Niger's close relationships with France and the United States. These two countries maintain significant military presences in Niger, including bases and troop deployments. France had previously withdrawn its forces from Mali and Burkina Faso following disputes with those countries' military leaders, choosing to focus on counterterrorism efforts in Niger instead.

The emergency summit in Abuja serves as a critical moment for ECOWAS to address the coup in Niger decisively. The bloc faces the challenge of finding a solution while avoiding further destabilization in the region plagued by coups and jihadist insurgencies. The international community watches with concern as ECOWAS leaders weigh their options and strive to chart a path toward restoring democratic governance in Niger.

Source of content: OOO News 2023-08-10 News

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