West Africa’s economic bloc is open to talks or a rare military intervention to overturn a coup in Niger, an official said.
(Bloomberg) — West Africa’s economic bloc is open to talks or a rare military intervention to overturn a coup in Niger, an official said.
Democracy will be restored “by all means available,” Abdel-Fatau Musah, the Ecowas commissioner for political affairs, peace and security, said at a high-level regional meeting in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, Thursday. “If push comes to shove we are going into Niger with our own contingent,” he said.
Top military officers representing nations of the Economic Community of West African States are meeting over the next two days to discuss possible intervention in Niger, where soldiers overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum in a July 26 coup, and continue to hold him hostage.
The majority of member-states are ready to participate in a standby force, but “Ecowas hasn’t ruled out diplomatic options,” Musah said.
Read More: What’s Driving Coups in Niger and Across West Africa?
The 15-nation bloc is taking a stand after the region’s sixth coup in three years. Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea have also recently succumbed to military power grabs.
Abdourahamane Tiani, Niger’s self-appointed leader who was the head of the presidential guard, has so far ignored Ecowas threats to intervene, missing a deadline earlier this month to relinquish power.
France and the US, which have troops stationed in the landlocked country, have also condemned the coup and the poor treatment of Bazoum, who had been a key ally in the global fight against jihadists linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State.
Ecowas seeks to ensure the constitutional order is restored, Musah said. “If other democracy-loving partners want to support us, they are welcome.”
–With assistance from Katarina Hoije.
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