Protesters hold a Niger flag during a demonstration on independence day in Niamey, 3 August. Protesters hold a Niger flag during a demonstration on independence day in Niamey, 3 August.  (AFP or licensors)

Niger: Military intervention would be the worst solution.

ECOWAS military intervention would be the worst solution to the situation in Niger. The country has its own ways of resolving conflicts such as these, says Rahmane Idrissa, a political scientist and historian.

Vatican News.

The Church news service, Agenzia Fides, has spoken to Rahmane Idrissa, a political scientist and historian based at Leiden University’s African Studies Centre and at the LASDEL in Niamey, Niger. Idrissa has advised ECOWAS against plans for military intervention in Niger.

Tinubu’s ultimatum

Idrissa believes that military intervention would be the worst solution as ECOWAS tries to restore Niger’s democratically elected President, Mohamed Bazoum, to power. 

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, the current chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has said ECOWAS would do everything in its power, including deploying military forces to return democracy to Niger.

General Abdourahamane Tiani, the commander of Niger's presidential guard, was appointed head of state on Friday by a governing council set up by military forces that ousted President Mohammed Bazoum. Mohammed Bazoum has been held by Niger’s military since Wednesday, 26 July, when he was removed in a coup.

ECOWAS’ dilemma

“I think Tinubu cares about restoring the image of ECOWAS … and no doubt as a means to boost Nigeria’s prestige,” explained Idrissa. “However, he uttered his threats prematurely and without having taken the time to understand what was happening in Niger and the Francophone countries of West Africa. As a result, he is now aware that intervention is not a good idea,” suggested Idrissa.

According to Idrissa, “the influence of Paris and Washington, which insist on a total restoration of Bazoum, is detrimental. A reinstatement is politically inconceivable, especially if it would restore the grip of Niger’s President Bazoum’s party (PNDS-Tarayya) to power. Reality has indeed changed. Military force cannot bring it back. The ideal solution would be to return to a Niger tradition: the putsch participating in the reinvention and renewal of the political process, like a computer being rebooted,” says Idrissa. 

Homegrown solutions 

In using Niger’s own way of resolving conflicts, Idrissa reckons that “The PNDS party would not be excluded from such a process, but without retaining the dominant position it has abused so far,” he explained

The political scientist continues, “I doubt that the junta in Niamey would reject an agreement in the name of which sanctions would be lifted in exchange for the activation of such a political process, with guarantees given to Nigeria perhaps through ECOWAS observers particularly Nigerians established in Niamey -that would be a way for Tinubu to ‘save face,’” said Idrissa.

He concluded, “The ideal rarely occurs, but the opposite of said ideal (prolonged sanctions at best, armed intervention at worst) is too grim to be acceptable.” 


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04 August 2023, 15:41