Amidst the ongoing crisis in Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali have issued a stern warning, declaring that any potential military intervention to reinstate deposed President Mohamed Bazoum would be construed as a “declaration of war against their two countries.” This cautionary message follows a statement from West African leaders, supported by Western allies, threatening to employ “force” to restore the democratically elected Bazoum and impose financial sanctions on the coup leaders. The governments of Burkina Faso and Mali emphasized that such an intervention could have dire repercussions, potentially destabilizing the entire region.
Moreover, the Russian Federation has also advised against a military solution, urging the utilization of constitutional means to restore peace in Niger. Russia’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Alexei Shebarshin, emphasized the importance of resolving the conflict independently and constitutionally, without resorting to force or threats of force.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) convened an emergency summit, demanding Bazoum’s reinstatement within a week and hinting at the possibility of using force if this condition is not met. The bloc also imposed financial sanctions, freezing transactions between member states and Niger. Human rights lawyer Femi Falana echoed these concerns, calling on ECOWAS to impose sanctions solely on the military junta instead of attacking the entire nation.
As the situation unfolds, France has been implicated in accusations of seeking military intervention, which the French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna vehemently denied. France’s President Emmanuel Macron has pledged swift action to safeguard French citizens and interests, while Italy and other nations arrange evacuation plans for their nationals in Niger.
The crisis, marked by the ousting of President Bazoum, adds complexity to the region’s political landscape, prompting responses from neighboring countries, international actors, and organizations like ECOWAS. The stability of Niger and its potential reverberations throughout West Africa remain key concerns amid these developments.