By: Seringe ST Touray
The unfolding situation continues as Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS Commissioner for Peace and Security, declared in the Ghanaian capital of Accra that soldiers from eleven West African countries, including Nigeria, Senegal, and Ghana, are “ready” to initiate military action in Niger should negotiations with the junta falter. Musah stated that this intervention’s purpose would be to reinstate constitutional order in Niger and restore ousted President Bazoum.
“We are ready to go anytime the orders are given,” said Musah. “Our troops are ready to respond to the call of duty of the region. It (military intervention) is not our preferred option – but we are obliged to do it because of the intransigence of the regime and the obstacles they’ve been putting in the way of a negotiated settlement.”
There are compelling indications that members of the Niger junta have initiated the evacuation of their families as a response to the looming threat of invasion by ECOWAS. This operation reportedly occurred recently at Agadez Airport within the country. Gulfstream G550 jets were utilized for this purpose.
According to Arise News, a source well-versed in these movements conveyed, “During the night of Friday, August 11th to Saturday, August 12th, 2023, the Nigerien junta, led by General Abdourahamane Tchiani, conducted the evacuation of families belonging to the coup plotters. A number of Gulfstream G550 aircraft, notably flight No. BFY824R, took off from Agadez Airport to destinations in Burkina Faso and Dubai, carrying women and children on board.”
Additional uncertainty engulfed the region following the junta’s recent announcement that ousted President Bazoum would face trial for high treason. If found guilty, Bazoum, who has been under house arrest, could potentially receive the death penalty, in accordance with Niger’s penal code. This decision resulted in substantial sanctions on Niger, causing a 60% surge in food prices and leading to electricity cuts lasting up to 10 hours. Despite these challenges, the soldiers further solidified their position by announcing a 21-member cabinet to govern the country.
Despite a strong show of support for the junta within the capital city of Niamey, Niger remains suspended from ECOWAS due to the military coup through which General Tchiani assumed power. Other West African countries under military leadership, including Guinea Konarki, Burkina Faso, and Mali, also had their ECOWAS memberships revoked.