France pledges support to ECOWAS in efforts to reverse Niger military coup

France pledges support to ECOWAS in efforts to reverse Niger military coup France pledges support to ECOWAS in efforts to reverse Niger military coup
Protesters hold an anti-France placard during a demonstration on independence day in Niamey on August 3, 2023 [AFP]

France has pledged its support to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in its efforts to reverse the military coup in Niger.

The French foreign ministry made this announcement on Saturday, stating that it would back ECOWAS in its bid to make the coup fail. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna held a meeting with Niger Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou and the Niger ambassador in Paris to discuss the issue.

Colonna emphasized the seriousness of the situation, stating that the coup leaders in Niamey had until Sunday to hand back power. She warned that if they failed to do so, ECOWAS’ threat of a military intervention should be taken very seriously. She described the threat as credible during an interview on French public radio.

However, it was not specified whether France’s support would involve military assistance in an ECOWAS intervention. ECOWAS announced on Friday that its military chiefs had formulated a plan for a possible intervention in Niger. The plan includes the necessary resources and details on how and when the force would be deployed, according to ECOWAS commissioner Abdel-Fatau Musah.

Musah stressed that diplomacy is their preferred approach, and they want the junta to have every opportunity to reverse their actions. The coup leaders in Niger have issued warnings, stating that they would respond with force if necessary.

France pledges support to ECOWAS in efforts to reverse Niger military coup
Protesters hold an anti-France placard during a demonstration on independence day in Niamey on August 3, 2023 [AFP]
The military takeovers in Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso since 2020 have raised concerns in the region. Both Mali and Burkina Faso have cautioned that any regional intervention would be seen as a declaration of war against them.

Russia’s growing presence in the Sahel region has sparked concerns and led to discussions about the need for foreign intervention in the crisis. However, Russia has made it clear that it believes a foreign intervention would not be the solution. This stance has been supported by neighboring countries like Benin and Germany, who advocate for continued diplomacy to defuse the situation.

In recent years, Russia has significantly increased its footprint in the Sahel region, which encompasses countries like Niger, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania. The region has been grappling with a range of security challenges, including terrorism, insurgency, and intercommunal violence. The Russian government’s involvement in the region has raised eyebrows and sparked debates about the motivations behind their expanding influence.

On the other hand, Benin and Germany have urged for a diplomatic approach to address the crisis in the Sahel. They believe that dialogue and negotiations are crucial in finding a peaceful resolution to the challenges facing the region. This approach aligns with the views of many experts and scholars who argue that military interventions often exacerbate conflicts and lead to greater instability.

The United States, in response to the recent coup in Niger, has decided to suspend some aid to the country. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the provision of US assistance to the government of Niger depends on democratic governance and respect for constitutional order. While Blinken did not specify which programs would be affected, he assured that life-saving humanitarian and food assistance, as well as diplomatic and security operations to protect US personnel, would continue.

The decision from the United States reflects its commitment to upholding democratic values and supporting legitimate governments. It also serves as a reminder to Niger and other countries in the region that democratic governance is crucial for maintaining a strong partnership with the US.

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