ECOWAS: A West African work in progress
05 August 2023 | 12:19 pm
Following a coup in Niger, the West African economic bloc has again resorted to sanctions against a member state. In the past, these have often proved ineffective, revealing the alliance’s weakness.
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West Africa's regional bloc on Wednesday said a military intervention in junta-ruled Niger was "the last resort" as Nigeria cut electricity supplies to intensify pressure on the country's coup leaders.
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West African leaders have agreed to keep all options, including military force, open to restore civilian rule in Niger. At a crisis ECOWAS summit in neighboring Nigeria, they ordered the deployment of a standby force. However, there are no signs Niger's junta will hand back power.
Regional analysts have said the move by West African leaders to activate a standby force to counter the junta in Niger represents a failure of diplomacy and is unlikely to succeed.
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Defense chiefs from members of the ECOWAS regional bloc meet in Accra to discuss the crisis in Niger. Last week the body activated a "standby force" potentially to intervene in Niger.
West African defence chiefs met in Ghana on Thursday to discuss a possible military intervention in Niger after coup leaders there ignored their deadline to step down. Nigeria has emerged as the strongest voice pushing for military action but all the ECOWAS leaders at the summit said diplomacy remains their preferred route out of the crisis.
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Niger's coup leader said "our ambition is not to confiscate power." This comes as an ECOWAS delegation arrived for peace talks after indicating a standby force was ready to intervene.
The ECOWAS force is on standby for military intervention in Niger if there's no peaceful end to the coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, an official for the regional bloc said.
ECOWAS sanctions on Niger appear to be a double-edged sword. Many Nigerians living near the border with Niger, which Nigeria shut after the coup, say the economic and humanitarian impacts are enormous.
The EU foreign ministers met to discuss ways to help West Africa's ECOWAS regional group handle the military takeover in Niger. The meeting came the junta stripped the French ambassador of diplomatic immunity.
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