Republic of Niger: ECOWAS Underlines Restoring Constitutional Order Through Peaceful Means


The Republic of Niger is a landlocked West Africa country but well known to be a major uranium producer and has 80% impoverished population. After the overthrow of the democratically-elected government under Mohamed Bazoum on July 26, the situation turns complicated and seemingly now the latest flashpoint in the struggle by the imperialist powers. The newly established the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), is headed by General Abdourahmane Tchiani.

Across the West African region consisting 16 countries, it is a battle between between the Anglophone and the Francophone. The French-speaking West African countries are keen to fight France’s influence in the region. Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea are now the latest flashpoint in the struggle by the imperialist powers have declared unreservedly support for the military coup leaders in Niger.

African Union, the continental organization, backed the decisions taken by the Regional Organization ECOWAS against the military in Niger, and of course against military rule in Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea. While the United States and Europe particularly support the restoration of the democratic government, Russia carries its anti-Western position and anti-imperialist stand and fiercely encouraging military infiltration into politics in Africa.

At the second Russia-Africa summit held in St. Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his speech, promised ‘no-cost delivery’ of military weapons, machinery and equipment to interested African countries, Russia has already signed military-technical cooperation with far more than half the continent, countering terrorist threats and trends of neocolonial challenges, continue its consistent support for strengthening the national sovereignty of African States as well as all their security dimensions.

“In order to strengthen the defence capabilities of African countries, we are developing partnerships in the military and military-technical fields. Russia has concluded military-technical cooperation agreements with more than 40 African countries, to which we supply a wide range of weapons and equipment. Some of these deliveries are carried out free of charge in order to strengthen the security and sovereignty of these countries,” Putin said. “That the African continent is emerging as a new centre of power right before our eyes. Everyone will have to reckon with this objective reality. Now Africa is ready to help bring about solutions to problems which may seem to lie outside of its immediate sphere of interests.”

“For decades, we invariably provided support during the African countries’ difficult fight against colonialism. This, of course, is a heavy legacy of the colonial era, the ‘divide and rule’ the Western metropolises pursued in Africa. Some manifestations of colonialism have not been eradicated to this day, and former colonial powers still practice them, including in the economic, information and humanitarian spheres,” Putin underlined at the plenary session of the second Russia-Africa Summit.

International concern is rising in resolving the crisis in Niger. It has absolutely divided Africa, making it largely elusive the decades-old pursuit for continental unity in diversity in Africa. The African Union’s Security Commission and the ECOWAS Unit fot Political and Security Affairs could not enforce their rules and regulations (protocols) on eradicating military intrusions into politics, and not even the ‘Silence the Guns’ protocol across Africa.

The entire Africa is passing through contradictions, simply unable to an independent dynamic institutions, control and decide its won destiny and reconstruct its economy after attaining political freedom 60 years ago. As media reported, ECOWAS parliament sharply divided, amid serious disagreements in its ranks, over invasion into Niger. 

ECOWAS leaders had previously demanded that the rebels release Bazoum by August 7, threatening to use force among other options. The organization said it was resolved to restore constitutional order in Niger. Upon returning from the summit, President of the Ivory Coast Alassane Ouattara said that the ECOWAS leaders agreed on launching a military operation in Niger as soon as possible.

According to the newspaper Punch, Nigeria’s army command has ordered commanders of units to inform the Defense Headquarters about their personnel, equipment, logistics and financial spending. But in the end, the Nigerian parliament also turned down the option to begin war against the military government in Niger.

Nevertheless, the neighboring countries of Mali and Burkina Faso warned that they would consider such a step as an attack on themselves. Since the ECOWAS ultimatum was ignored, the community’s leaders reconvened on August 10. The organization said it was resolved to restore constitutional order in Niger. 

The latest dangerous development is the rebels in Niger to charge President Bazoum with high treason. According to the rebels, they have collected evidence that allows them to prosecute the former president and his accomplices on charges of treason and endangering state security.

Equally of significance is the unintended possibility of turning Niger into a fertile territory for proxy wars. Even after the war is over, the region must brace itself for raised acts of terrorism or insurgency just as it might signal the end of ECOWAS. Despite the unimpeachable credentials in the popular struggle against military rule, the use of military force to remove the military junta in Niger has both advantages and disadvantages. 

In his closing remarks at the 2nd Extraordinary Summit, Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has confirmed the regional bloc’s steadfast commitment in helping the people of Niger’s journey towards peace and democratic stability.

The Nigerian leader strongly emphasized that the remarkable outcome of the summit, which authorized the standby deployment of ECOWAS troops to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger, attests to the power of collaboration and unity among ECOWAS member states.

“We have reaffirmed our commitment to the people of Niger and to the progress of our  entire ECOWAS Community. We will continue with that. From the Communiqué of this extraordinary summit, no option is taken off the table, including the use of force as the last resort. We remain steadfast in supporting Niger in a journey towards peace and democratic stability,” Tinubu underlined in his remarks.

As stated right at the beginning, ECOWAS advocates for restoring democracy and that is necessary to promote and preserve it. Therefore, the best is to explore the possibility through diplomacy mechanisms which clearly is more beneficial in the region security. In any case, the second extraordinary summit of the Authority of ECOWAS still issued a terse statement directing the Committee of Chief of Defence Staff to activate the ECOWAS Standby Military Force.

Kester Kenn Klomegah
Kester Kenn Klomegah
MD Africa Editor Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and writer on African affairs in the EurAsian region and former Soviet republics. He wrote previously for African Press Agency, African Executive and Inter Press Service. Earlier, he had worked for The Moscow Times, a reputable English newspaper. Klomegah taught part-time at the Moscow Institute of Modern Journalism. He studied international journalism and mass communication, and later spent a year at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He co-authored a book “AIDS/HIV and Men: Taking Risk or Taking Responsibility” published by the London-based Panos Institute. In 2004 and again in 2009, he won the Golden Word Prize for a series of analytical articles on Russia's economic cooperation with African countries.