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ECOWAS decides to reinstate Bazoum of Niger

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By Mercy Kelani

A standby force is set for deployment to restore constitutional order.

Sam Mednick, the Associated Press’ West Africa correspondent, gave a description of the Niger situation after the succession of Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani who overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum on August 11th. Deployment of troops in Niger has been ordered in a bid to restore democracy in the country and has arose tensions between the West African regional bloc and Niger’s new military regime. A statement from ECOWAS bloc affirmed that a standby force is set for deployment, aiming to return constitutional order after the Sunday ultimatum to reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum to power.

Reports from The Associated Press indicated that two western officials stated that the junta in Niger spoke with a high rank U.S diplomat and affirmed to kill Bazoum if any military attempt is made by any neighbouring countries to restore him to power. However, the time or place where the ECOWAS military force would be sent is not certain and the consequences of the threat report on Bazoum’s life on the conclusion of the intervention by the 15-member bloc. Experts that deal with conflict said that the force is likely to consist of approximately 5,000 troops which could be ready in weeks and would be directed by Nigeria.

The junta believe the country will be better with military regime.

Alassane Ouattara, Ivory Coast president, after the ECOWAS meeting confirmed that the force operation would be joined by his country alongside Benin and Nigeria. In addition, he mentioned that financial arrangements and provision of battalion would be made available. Also, he added that his contribution is to reinstate Bazoum and restore stability and peace in the sub-region. Niger has been viewed as a poor country of about 25 million people and was seen as Western nations’ last hopes to collaborate with in beating back the insurgency of jihadi which was linked to the ravaging Islamic State group and al-Qaida in the region.

Approximately, the United States and France have over 2,500 force personnel in Niger alongside other partners from Europe that had invested hundreds of millions of dollars into supporting its military. The junta that is responsible for leading a coup under Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani claimed their intervention could be better in directing the administration than Bazoum’s administration by exploiting anti-French sentiment among the people in order to increase its support and protecting the country from Jihadi violence. In Niamey, Nigeriens in the capital explained the situation, stating that ECOWAS should not intervene because it is not familiar with the reality.

Bazoum has been ousted for over fourteen days, facing a death threat.

Resident of Niger, Achirou Harouna Albassi, said that it is the business of the country and not ECOWAS affairs, stating that the situation that led to the coup was caused by Bazoum who was not abiding to the demand of the people. Hundreds of Nigeriens went to the French military base, screaming “Down with France” and waving Russian flags. Many youths and children chanted that the French should leave the country. The junta was called to urgently stop the escalation with the regional organisation, by the African Union who gave its solid support to ECOWAS’s decision, and requested his instant release.

Antony Blinken, U.S Secretary of State, said that the peaceful resolution to the crisis by ECOWAS was appreciated by his country, and the junta would be held accountable for the security and safety of President Bazoum, but he didn’t mention whether the deployment of the troops was supported by the U.S. According to the report, he has been ousted for over fourteen days. Assistant professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati, Alexander Thurston, said that violent treatment against him would attract worst coups than those of previous years. Although, it is not certain if ECOWAS’s decision would change based on the junta’s threat.

Niger has a well-trained army that could resist invasion.

An associate professor at the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies, Nate Allen, said that it would be unprecedented for ECOWAS intervention to restore constitutional order to a country of Niger’s population and size. In addition, Niger has a well-trained and fairly large army that may create strong obstacles to ECOWAS. Deliberating whether to prepare or mediate for war, there are travel sanctions charged by ECOWAS and harsh economy which poses suffering on Nigeriens. The U.N. resident coordinator in Niger, Louise Aubin, said that the situation in Niger could become more dire as over 4 million people depended on humanitarian assistance prior to the coup.

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