October 4, 2023

La Ronge Northerner

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Niger coup: West African countries gather ‘reserve force’

Niger coup: West African countries gather ‘reserve force’

image source, Getty Images

photo caption,

Ivorian leader Alassane Ouattara and ECOWAS President Omar Touray discussed possible military responses to the Niger coup

West African nations have agreed to military intervention in Niger “as soon as possible,” the Ivory Coast president said, following a meeting to discuss the coup.

At the meeting, the leaders of the ECOWAS regional bloc said they had agreed to form a “reserve” military force.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu said the use of force would be a “last resort”.

The military junta seized power in Niger on 26 July.

The United States and the United Nations say they are concerned about the health and safety of ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, who has spent more than two weeks under house arrest.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was concerned about the “miserable living conditions” that Bazoum and his family were living in.

After the ECOWAS meeting, Alassane Ouattara from Ivory Coast said that ECOWAS has intervened in African countries in order to restore constitutional order before.

“Today we have a similar situation in Niger, and I would say that ECOWAS does not accept this,” he said.

Ouattara said Ivory Coast would provide a battalion of 850 to 1,100 men, and said soldiers from Nigeria and Benin would also be deployed.

Oumar Touray, president of the ECOWAS group, said the members had decided to “order the deployment of the ECOWAS Reserve Force to restore constitutional order in Niger”.

Ahead of the meeting, Muslim clerics from northern Nigeria, which shares a long border with Niger, urged Nigerian President Tinubu not to use force to overthrow the coup leaders.

But he said after the meeting: “There is no option on the table, including the use of force as a last resort.

“If we don’t do it, no one will do it for us.”

He warned the coup leaders that they would defend themselves against any interference

Last Sunday, ECOWAS issued a deadline for Niger’s military junta to restore the democratically elected government, but it was ignored.

Instead, the military leaders appointed a new ruling government.

Both the United States and France have military bases in Niger, which have been used as part of efforts to counter jihadist groups in the broader Sahel region.