Allied nations in West Africa have ordered the “deployment” of a coalition force, which they have instructed to “restore constitutional order” in coup-torn Niger.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had warned the military junta now ruling the country that a failure to hand back power to Niger’s civilian government would be met with military intervention.
This threat now appears to have been acted upon.
In a press release published on August 10, the coalition stated that it had directed its collective defence staff to “immediately activate the ECOWAS Standby Force with all its elements”.
This force has been ordered to “restore the constitutional order in the Republic of Niger”.
The son of Niger’s ambassador to France Aïchatou Boulama Kané has been arrested in the country’s junta-controlled capital Niamey. https://t.co/cW3gVU2zSg
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 9, 2023
According to a report by American broadcaster CNN, no one appears to be sure what such a declaration actually means, especially since, despite the order, the African states insist that they are still committed to reinstalling Niger’s democratic government through “peaceful means”.
Even if it is a declaration that the African states are going to war, such an invasion of the country may be a long way off. A separate joint military operation in Gambia headed up by ECOWAS took seven weeks to prepare.
In addition, “The mission to Gambia was much more straightforward,” said Cameron Hudson of the Centre for the Strategic and International Studies.
“Niger would not be just an intervention, it’s a hostage rescue of a president who is under house arrest and being used as a human shield by the junta,” he added.
West African nations are now said to be haggling over how many troops they are willing to dedicate to the Niger cause, with it remaining unclear how large any final invasion force might be.
L’UE réitère sa profonde inquiétude face à la détérioration des conditions de détention du Président @mohamedbazoum et sa famille qui, selon les dernières informations, seraient privés de nourriture, d’électricité et de soins depuis plusieurs jours. (1/2)
— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) August 11, 2023
The European Union and the United States have expressed concerns regarding the welfare of Bazoum. While he is thought to still be in good health, reports have indicated that he may be running out of food.
“The EU reiterates its deep concern at the deteriorating conditions of detention of the President and his family who, according to the latest information, have been deprived of food, electricity and health care for several days,” European Commission foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell remarked.
Borrell’s American counterpart, Antony Blinken, warned that the US would hold the revolutionaries responsible if any harm comes to Bazoum.
With the military taking power in Niger, anti-French sentiment in the country is growing. https://t.co/hlfajDUWxX
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 7, 2023