Regional Bodies’ Inaction Emboldens Coup Plotters: ECOWAS Gives Ultimatum, Mali and Burkina Faso Ready for War!


ECOWAS leaders have given the coup plotters a one-week ultimatum to reinstate President Bazoum, threatening the use of force if demands are not met. In a final communique published on Sunday after the Fifty First Extraordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government on the political situation in Niger, West Africa’s regional body joined in the widespread institutional condemnation of the Nigerien coup and the illegal detention of President Bazoum and members of his family and government.

Mohamed Bazoum, President of the Republic of Niger currently under house arrest

The African Union, Pan-African Parliament, United Nations, European Union, United States of America, Russia, China, la Francophonie, the Commonwealth, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), are some of the entities that have expressed support for ECOWAS’ efforts to defend constitutional order and call for President Bazoum’s immediate release and restoration of the democratically elected government.

On the other hand, Mali and Burkina Faso announced on Monday that they will declare war if what they deem a ‘Western-controlled’ ECOWAS invade Niger. According to reports, Col. Mamadi Doumbouya of Guinea, Capt. Ibrahim Traore of Burkina Faso and Col. Assimi Goita of Mali have officially announced that their countries will declare war against ECOWAS if they use force to reinstate the ousted President of Niger. Other speculations claim Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea are also planning to unite and create the largest country ruled by the military.

From Left: Col. Mamadi Doumbouya of Guinea, Capt. Ibrahim Traore of Burkina Faso and Col. Assimi Goita of Mali . Illustration from Twitter/@MikeSonko 

It is also reported that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the boss of the Wagner mercenary group, has expressed support for the recent military coup in Niger, describing it as a liberation from Western colonizers. In a voice message on Telegram, which was associated with Wagner, Prigozhin offered his fighters’ services to bring order to Niger. While the message did not claim direct involvement in the coup, it suggests that Prigozhin and his men remain active in Africa and are keen to expand their operations.

How Did We Get Here?

Niger’s General Abdourahamane Tchiani declared himself head of state on July 28, 2023, following a military coup that led to the detention of the elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, since July 19. Expert analysis on international security, conflict, and governance in Africa highlights three main factors contributing to the coup.

Firstly, ethnic tensions played a crucial role, with debates over the legitimacy of President Bazoum due to his Arab minority background, leading to perceptions of foreign origins within the predominantly non-Arab military.

Secondly, the presence of foreign military forces, particularly from Western nations like France and the US, has been a point of contention for the military. Niger’s status as an ally in the fight against insurgency has led to concerns about the military’s authority and influence.

Thirdly, the lack of strong actions from regional organizations like ECOWAS and the African Union against military takeovers in neighbouring countries has emboldened the Nigerien military, as well as others in support of military takeovers.

The situation in Niger remains fluid, and regional and international leaders are closely monitoring developments to ensure a peaceful and expeditious resolution of the crisis.

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