ECOWAS Orders Deployment Of Standby Military Force To Niger

Niger Crisis: Civil Society Criticises ECOWAS’ Military Plans, Seeks Diplomacy

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Leading voices within Nigeria’s civil society circle have sharply criticised the proposal by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to employ military action in addressing the ongoing political turmoil in Niger Republic.

They expressed concerns over potential implications on regional ramifications and called for a peaceful resolution.

The United Action Front of Civil Society, a prominent Nigerian advocacy group, in a strongly-worded press statement today, condemned ECOWAS’ decision to consider a military intervention. The group, led by Olawale Okunniyi, Head of the National Coordinating Centre, emphasized the need for diplomatic negotiations and a collective agreement to establish lasting peace in Niger.

The ECOWAS Extraordinary Meeting, held in Abuja on August 10, 2023, has sparked controversy due to its resolution to put military forces on standby in response to the political crisis in Niger Republic. The United Action Front of Civil Society described this decision as misguided and potentially counterproductive, warning against the escalation of tensions and the exacerbation of existing regional challenges, such as terrorism and poverty.

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“The decision of ECOWAS Extraordinary Meeting in Abuja on August 10, 2023 to put military on standby is unwholesome and portends potential threats to peace across West African region.”

“The decision of ECOWAS Extraordinary meeting is thus coming across as pandering to the dubious agenda of interested forces outside ECOWAS,” the group said.

While acknowledging the imperative of restoring constitutional order in Niger, the civil society group underscored the significance of embracing diplomatic channels and achieving consensus among all involved parties. They stressed that the durability of democracy in Niger hinges on a mutually agreed-upon resolution that lays the foundation for sustained stability.

Expressing concern over the complexity of the situation, the group urged ECOWAS to consider the perspectives of Niger’s citizens, who reportedly exhibit support for the military junta. The group called on ECOWAS to prioritize the well-being and aspirations of the civilian population while refraining from actions that might incite unrest.

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The group added that if ECOWAS proceeds with a military intervention in Niger Republic, civil society leaders and their Nigerian allies would stage a mass protest march to the Presidential Villa Abuja.

“We call on the Chairman of ECOWAS, Jagaban Bola Tinubu to be persuaded by the overwhelming appeals and cautions amongst critical stakeholders in Nigeria for a peaceful resolution of the raging power tussle in Niger Republic.

“To avoid a situation where civil society Leaders and allies in Nigeria will have to stage a massive protest walk to Aso Rock Presidential Villa, we insist that ECOWAS should be guided by the mood and pulse of stakeholders in the sub region, who are worried that the eventuality of compounding instability in Niger Republic will trigger devastating ripple effects in the neighbouring countries.”

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