Military chiefs from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will meet in Ghana on Thursday and Friday to discuss potential military intervention in Niger to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, Al Jazeera reported on Tuesday.
ECOWAS leaders announced last week that they were activating a standby force to “restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger,” but there’s no sign yet that an intervention is imminent.
The meeting of ECOWAS military chiefs was initially scheduled for this past Saturday but was postponed as the bloc said it wanted to leave room for diplomacy with the junta, which is led by Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani.
Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, the chair of ECOWAS, has called for a peaceful solution and said intervention is a “last resort.” But the Niger junta, which calls itself the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), has shown no sign that it will reinstate Bazoum, which is the main demand of ECOWAS and its Western backers, the US and France.
On Sunday, the junta claimed that it had evidence to prosecute Bazoum for high treason. “The Nigerien government has to date, gathered the necessary evidence to prosecute the deposed president and his local and foreign accomplices before the competent national and international authorities for high treason and undermining internal and external security of Niger,” the CNSP said in a statement.
An ECOWAS intervention in Niger could turn into a major regional war as Burkina Faso, and Mali have warned that they would back the Niger junta. The US and France would also likely be involved as they both have over 1,000 troops in Niger and have backed the ECOWAS threats to use force to reinstate Bazoum.