By Onome Amuge.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has placed defence chiefs in member states on standby for potential military action in Niger Republic, stating that “no option is off the table” including the use of force as a last resort to restore democratic rule to the West African country.
ECOWAS made the declaration following its 2nd extraordinary meeting held in Abuja, where it reiterated the condemnation of the military junta Niger as well as the detention of ousted President Mohamed Bazoum and his family.
The meeting, which was attended by officials from the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) who engaged with ECOWAS officials on how to proceed after the military junta in Niger defied the bloc’s deadline to relinquish power to democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum.
Omar Alieu Touray, president of the ECOWAS Commission, while reading resolutions at the ECOWAS Extraordinary meeting in Abuja , stated that the decision to activate the ECOWAS stand-by force in response to the Niger coup leader’s defiance of the West Africa bloc’s 7-day ultimatum.
“Direct the committee of the Chief of Defence Staff to activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its elements immediately.
“Order the deployment of the ECOWAS stand-by force to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.
“Underscore its continued commitment to the restoration of constitutional order through peaceful means,” part of the resolutions read.
The regional political and economic region of fifteen countries also upheld border closures and other restrictions including strict travel bans on Niger Republic, but noted that it will keep all options on the table for a peaceful resolution
ECOWAS called on the African Union to endorse all resolutions taken by the Commission to ensure quick restorarlton of constitutional order in Niger.
This development comes hours after President Bola Tinubu, the ECOWAS Chairman, called for diplomatic negotiations as the primary means of resolving the crisis, emphasizing that military intervention should be considered only as a last resort.