The Republic of Niger, which is located in west Africa, is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the largest country in west Africa. It went through a coup that commenced on July 26, 2023, where the president, Mohamed Bazoum, was overthrown by the military junta.
Some speculate that the cause of the war was due to various factors such as the rising cost of living and perception of government incompetence, the military takeover in neighboring countries such as Mali and Burkina Faso since 2020, and the attempted coup in Niger on March 2021.
Organizations such as the African Union (AU) suspend the participation of the Republic of Niger in all activities of the AU and its Organs and institutions until the effective restoration of constitutional order in the country, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) impose immediate sanctions on Niger such as the closing of borders, banning of flight, halting financial traction, freezing of assets, and suspending any form of aid.
Moreover, the AU advised that the ECOWAS should plan by preparing a standby force against Niger if needs arise, and this was during a highly anticipated statement, where the AU expressed its concern about the situation in Niger and its commitment to restoring democratic order in the country. The suspension will remain in effect until the regular constitutional government is reestablished.
The decision was reached after a meeting held by the AU’s Peace and Security Council, which discussed the implications of the military coup in Niger. The AU called on both its member nations and the global community to reject the takeover and refrain from taking any actions that could legitimize the new regime. The ECOWAS released a statement saying if the military didn’t reimburse power back to President Mohamed Bazoum within a week, the ECOWAS would take all measures necessary to restore constitutional order in the republic of Niger.
IMAGE: Civilians in Niger are chanting anti-French slogans while waving both Russian and Nigerien flags.
And in response, Niger’s military rulers warned against such action, saying “we once again remind ECOWAS or any other adventure of our firm determination to defend our homeland,” but unfortunately, the intended course of action didn’t materialize due to numerous efforts in dialogue and diplomacy put forth by ECOWAS and partners like the United States and the European Union.
Various opinions have been expressed with regards to whether the ECOWAS threat may be based on the fact that previous sanctions that were based on coups in countries like Burkina Faso and Guinea have yielded no or little progress on maintaining democracy. Where the ECOWAS chair of defense chief Gen. Christopher Musa said,
Niger shares two borders with military led allies Mali and Burkina Faso, and all two have stated that they will fight back in support of Niger, which is also a member of ECOWAS. while other members are in support of ECOWAS, which may result in division within members.
Therefore, the one question people keep asking is: if war were to break out, to what degree would other organizations get involved to support ECOWAS?