The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says it has not declared war on Niger and neither has it dropped the option of military action to restore democratic authority in the country.
President of the Commission, Dr. Omar Touray, who declared the position on Friday said the bloc had only put its military on a standby.
Touray said there is presently ongoing dialogue with the junta for a possible resolution of the political impasse in Niger and would only Intervened militarily when all other options fail.
Touray assured the people of Niger that the regional body is concerned about their welfare as it works towards restoring civilian rule and political stability in the country.
He spoke amid opposition to ECOWAS planned military intervention in Niger to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.
“For the avoidance of doubt, let me state unequivocally that ECOWAS has neither declared war on the people of Niger nor is there a plan, as it is being purported, to ‘invade’ the country.
“The ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government has only activated a full scale application of sanctions which includes the use of legitimate force to restore constitutional order. Never has ECOWAS indicated it.
“In the interim, the region is employing other elements of its instruments and engaging with the military authorities as can be attested to by the several missions that have been fielded to the country and our joint efforts with our partners, including the African Union and the UN.
“We are hopeful that these diplomatic efforts will yield the desired outcome and make it unnecessary for the deployment of the force. Nonetheless, preparations continue towards making the force ready for deployment.
“Consequently, the technical arms of the decision-making organs, which include the Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff have also been directed to prepare the community enforcement mechanism in case it becomes compelling to deploy the force.
“The decision of the Heads of State and Government to activate the clause providing for the application of legitimate force in Niger was reached only after dialogue failed.
“We are deeply concerned about the wellbeing of the people and the country.
“Historically, military administrations have not demonstrated any capacity to better deal with complex political, social and security challenges.
“Let me reiterate that the decision of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, which is currently chaired by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is to work for the peaceful restoration of civilian rule in Niger Republic without any delay and to use all the instruments at the disposal of ECOWAS towards the attainment of this goal”, he said.
DIPLOMATIC DIARY recalls that ECOWAS leaders in an extraordinary summit in Abuja, Nigeria, on Thursday, August 10, had directed its military chiefs to be on the standby for military action to reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum, who was sacked by the military junta on July 26.
After a meeting of the bloc’s military chiefs On Friday, August 19, ECOWAS commissioner for peace and security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, had said 11 of its 15 member states agreed to commit troops for military deployment saying they were “ready to go” whenever the order was given.