The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has directed the deployment of standby military troops to restore constitutional order in the Niger Republic.
ECOWAS gave the directive on Thursday at the end of its second extraordinary meeting held in Abuja to address the political crisis in Niger.
The resolve to deploy force comes days after the military junta in Niger defied the ECOWAS deadline to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.
The regional bloc had threatened the use of force as a last option if the Nigerien military authorities remain recalcitrant one week from the ECOWAS first meeting which was held on July 30.
In his opening remarks at the second extraordinary meeting of the organisation, President Bola Tinubu said the political crisis in Niger not only poses a threat to the stability of the nation but also has far-reaching implications for the entire West African region.
The ECOWAS chairperson added that the bloc’s leaders were mandated to exhaust all avenues of engagement to ensure a swift return to constitutional governance in Niger.
He said the regional body would evaluate the effectiveness of its interventions and identify any gaps or challenges that may have hindered progress.
In a communique issued at the close of Thursday’s meeting, ECOWAS arrived at a number of conclusions to address the Niger crisis, including a call to the African Union to endorse all the decisions taken by the organisation.
The bloc condemned Bazoum’s hostage condition and held the military government in Niger responsible for the safety of the detained president, his family and the democratically appointed administration.
While ECOWAS reiterated its determination to keep all options on the table for the peaceful resolution of the crisis, the regional body warned “member states who by their action directly or indirectly, hindered the peaceful resolution of the crisis in Niger about the consequences for their action before the community”.
“ECOWAS call on the African Union to endorse all the decisions taken by the ECOWAS authority on the situation in Niger,” the bloc added.
“The organisation further call on all partner countries and institutions, including the United Nations to support ECOWAS in its effort to ensure a quick restoration of constitutional order in conformity with its normative instruments.”
ECOWAS also directed the president of the commission to monitor the implementation of the sanctions and ordered the “committee of the chief of defence staff to activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its elements immediately”.
The bloc added that it would continue to commit to its resolve to restore “constitutional order through peaceful means”.