Niger: Still huffing and puffing, ECOWAS slows down on military response
By John Eche
Rising from a second emergency session on the crisis in Niger Republic this Thursday, the Authority of the Heads of State and Governments of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS has called on its allies to continue to support its initiatives aimed at restoring civil, democratic rule in the country.
In attendance at the session were President Talon of Benin Republic, Alasane Ouattara of Cote D’Ivoire, President Embalo of Guinea Bissau, Bola Tinubu of Nigeria, Macky Sall of Senegal, Nana Akuffo Addo of Ghana, Maada Bio of Sierra Leone and Gnassingbe Faure of Togo. Gambia, Liberia and Cape Verde were represented while Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea were conspicuously absent.
From outside of the sub-regional body, the Presidents of Burundi and Mauritania, as well as representatives of the UN Sec Gen and the African Union Chairperson were also present in an observer capacity.
The official communique at the end of the summit formally reiterated that ECOWAS was standing by its call for restoration of democratic rule in Niger but observers see this as only face-saving political rhetoric relative to the we-will-flush-them-out tone that ECOWAS had begun with when the crisis freshly broke.
In his own remarks at the session, President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria however restated that no option was off the table, including the use of force. He however also joined in making a case for the primacy of dialogue and negotiations.
Back in Niger, the General Tchiani-led junta has empaneled a new cabinet to replace the ousted government of President Bazoum.
General Abdourahamane Tchiani, Niger junta chief