ECOWAS still working diplomatically for order in Niger

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will continue pursuing diplomatic initiatives toward restoration of constitutional order in Niger without compromising the option of deploying the regional standby force, ECOWAS Commission President, Dr Omar Alieu Touray said.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja last week,he said the military option was decided by the Authority of Heads of State and Government to stem the contagion of coups d’état following the three successful and three failed attempted coups in the region.

“The current development in Niger adds to the list of attempted coups d’état so you understand why the Heads of State and Government decided this is one coup too many and resolved it was time to end the contagion,” he said in an official statement.

“The decision of the Heads of State and Government to activate the clause providing for application of legitimate force in Niger was reached after due consideration of how political dialogue alone unfortunately failed to deter coup plotters in the region.

“The precedents in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso are unsettling and underline why ECOWAS was obliged to take a hard but legitimate stance, backed by ECOWAS Community law which I must stress was subscribed to by member states, including Niger.”

In the interim, the region is employing other elements and engaging with military authorities attested to by several missions to Niger and joint efforts with partners, including the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN).

He characterised the coup in Niger as a “tragedy for regional efforts at consolidating democracy after the political crises of the 90’s as exemplified by the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone,” emphasising “through the collective efforts of our community, the region was stabilised and the foundation for democracy and the rule of law restored. Until about three years ago, all leaders in the ECOWAS region were democratically elected.”

The President dismissed as ‘misrepresentation,’ reports ECOWAS declared war on Niger. The decision to deploy a regional force is in line with obligations under the Community instruments to which Niger is a signatory.