Sunday, April 14, 2024

Niger coupists threaten to kill Bazoum as ECOWAS orders immediate standby force against junta

The military junta in Niger Republic has told a top U.S. diplomat that they would kill deposed President Mohamed Bazoum if neighboring countries attempted any military intervention to restore his rule, two Western officials told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Representatives of the junta told U.S. Under Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, of the threat to Bazoum during her visit to the country this week, a Western military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

According to AP, a U.S. official confirmed that account, also speaking on condition of anonymity, because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Bazoum, who was deposed on July 26, says he is being held hostage at his residence.

Meanwhile, the regional ECOWAS bloc said on Thursday that it had directed the deployment of a “standby force” to restore democracy in Niger after the coup.

However, it gave no details about the make-up, location, and proposed date of deployment for any military intervention force.

Heads of member states of the West African bloc met in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, Thursday.

Asked for clarification, the president of the ECOWAS commission, Omar Alieu Touray, said he could only reaffirm the decisions by “the military authorities in the sub region to deploy a standby force of the community.”

Financing had been discussed and “appropriate measures have been taken,” he said.

ECOWAS said all efforts made to dialogue with Niger Republic military junta have been defiantly rejected by coup leaders as they condemn the continuous detention of President Mohamed Bazoum and his family members.

The Authority noted that “having considered the memorandum presented by the President of the ECOWAS commission on the current situation in the Republic of Niger, as well as ECOWAS engagement since the last extraordinary summit; and having considered the reports of the envoys of the chair, to Niger and various other places and also carefully considered the report and recommendations of the ECOWAS committee of chiefs of defense staff and extensively discussed the latest development in Niger since the last extraordinary Summit held on 30th July 2023 noted that all diplomatic efforts made by ECOWAS, in resolving the crisis have been defiantly repelled by the military leadership of the Republic of Niger taking note of the expiration of the one-week ultimatum given for the restoration of constitutional order in the Republic of Niger decide as follows:

“Reiterates its strong condemnation of the attempted coup d’état and the continued illegal detention of President Mohammed Bazoum, his family, and members of his government

“Further condemns the condition in which President Bazoum is being detained and holds the CNSP fully and solely responsible for the safety, security, and physical integrity of President Bazoum, members of his family, and government.

“Uphold all measures and principles agreed upon by the extraordinary Summit held on Niger on 30th July 2023; Underscore the determination of the ECOWAS authority to keep all options on the table for the peaceful resolution of the crisis.

“Enforce all measures in particular border closures and strict travel bans and assets freeze on all persons or groups of individuals whose actions hinder all peaceful efforts aimed at ensuring the smooth and complete restoration of constitutional order; Warn 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.

“Call on the African Union to endorse all the decisions taken by the ECOWAS authority on the situation in Niger; 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.

“Direct the President of the Commission to monitor the implementation of the sanctions; Direct the Committee of the chief of defense staff to activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its elements immediately.

“Order the deployment of the ECOWAS standby force to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger; Underscore its continued commitment to the restoration of constitutional order through peaceful means.”

In the meantime, the Nigerian President, Bola Tinubu on Thursday said no option is off the table including the use of force as the last resort in resolving the Niger Republic crisis.

Tinubu who is the Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States made this comment while giving his closing remarks at the bloc’s summit in Abuja.

“You will see from the communiqué of this extraordinary summit that no option is taken off the table including the use of force as the last resort. If we don’t do it, no one else will do it for us. We remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting Niger towards peaceful and democratic stability in the country,” Tinubu said.

The Nigerian leader, while admitting that there will be challenges ahead, said that with collective resolve the ECOWAS will navigate all obstacles for lasting peace and prosperity in Niger and other member countries.

He commended leaders for their “unwavering commitment” to the sub-region and welfare of the African continent.

“The road ahead will undoubtedly have challenges but I firmly believe that with our collective resolve, we can navigate these obstacles and chart a part towards lasting peace and prosperity for Nigeriens and ECOWAS.

“I send my sincere gratitude to all of you for your dedication and valuable contributions during this extraordinary summit. Your unwavering commitment to ECOWAS and the welfare of our continent is highly commendable.

“I want to thank you for your positive remarks and recognition given to me and the government and the people of Nigeria. May our collective efforts pave the way for a brighter future for Nigeriens and all Africans,” he added.

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