Monday, June 17, 2024

Gambia’s Touma Njai among ECOWAS Parliament’s mediation team to Niger

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During a virtual extraordinary session held on Saturday, August 12, the ECOWAS parliament selected Honourable Touma Njai, a parliamentarian from Gambia, to be part of a mediation committee tasked with visiting Niger to resolve the current political crisis and find a sustainable solution.

The committee to be headed by Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase, 1st Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, includes Memounatou Ibrahima, 3rd Deputy Speaker; Adja Satu Camara Pinto, 4th Deputy Speaker; Edwin Melvin Snowe Jr., Liberia; Fatoumatta Njai, The Gambia; Woraye Sarr, Senegal; Veronick Kadie Sesay, Sierra Leone; Mohamed Ali Ndume, Nigeria; Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah, Ghana; Herve Aka, Cote d’Ivoire; Orlando Pereira Dias, Cabo Verde; and Nassirou Bako Arifari, Benin.

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The Committee is also expecting to meet Bola Tinubu, Chair of the Ecowas Authority, before their subsequent visit to Niger.
The session comes barely two days after the Ecowas leaders called for the activation of the Ecowas standby force for deployment to Niger to restore constitutional order, following the overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum by the Presidential Guards led by Abdourahmane Tchiani on 26th July.

During long hours of discussion, the Ecowas Parliamentarians were divided over the decision to use military intervention in Niger. Most of them suggest diplomacy over military intervention, and call for ease of sanctions, as it is the people who are suffering. They suggest the sanctions should be limited to the junta.

Hon. Fatoumatta Njai of The Gambia condemned the military coup but was quick to call for a closer look at the root causes of the coups in the sub-region. Many have blamed the coups on the high cost of living and unemployment among others as a result of bad governance.

Hon Idris Wase of Nigeria and first deputy speaker of the Ecowas Parliament believes any war in Niger will have a negative impact on Nigeria, which shares a 1,600-kilometre-long border with Niger.

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“The use of military force has never solved any problem hence dialogue should be explored,” added Mohammed Karbeer Garba, second deputy Speaker of the Community Parliament.

As part of the sanctions, Nigeria has cut off electricity supply to Niger, which Ali Ndume, a member of the Parliament from Nigeria condemned, adding that any military deployment to Niger by Nigeria without parliamentary approval is against the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Honourable Salou Djibo from Niger stressed using dialogue, as he informed the session that the sanctions imposed on his country are already taking its toll on the ordinary Nigeriens.

Hon. Adebayo Balogun has different views from his colleagues. He said there is a difference between intervening militarily to dislodge a military junta and declaring war on a country. For him, Ecowas is simply intervening against the coup leaders from taking power.

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Billay Tunkara of The Gambia said there is a need for a bold step to bring an end to military coups in the sub-region. He supports the use of force if all dialogue fails.

The junta in Niger is showing no sign of compromise, as it continues to snub envoys on the crisis. Tchiani has already formed a new government led by Prime Minister Ali Mahamane Lamine Zeine, Niger’s former Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, and resident representative of the African Development Bank in Chad, Ivory Coast and Gabon.

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