In response to the military coup in Niger, the African Union (AU) has temporarily suspended the country from all of its engagements and advised its member nations to refrain from any actions that could confer legitimacy upon the junta.
The recent coup has sparked concern among Western allies and democratic African nations, who are worried that it might provide an opportunity for militant groups operating in the Sahel region to extend their influence.
Furthermore, there are apprehensions in the West that it could also allow Russia to gain a stronger foothold and enhance its sway in the area.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been engaged in negotiations with the junta, yet it has indicated its preparedness to deploy troops to Niger for the purpose of reinstating constitutional order if diplomatic endeavors prove unsuccessful.
In a communique issued on Tuesday, the African Union Peace and Security Council acknowledged the choice to mobilize an ECOWAS standby force and tasked the AU Commission with evaluating the economic, social, and security consequences associated with deploying such a force.
The resolutions mentioned in Tuesday’s statement were ratified during a council meeting convened on August 14, the statement noted.
It reiterated its demands for the immediate release of the elected President Mohamed Bazoum, who has been in custody since the coup, and called for the coup leaders to return to their military barracks.
Up until now, the coup leaders have withstood pressure to relinquish power and have put forth a proposal for a three-year timeframe to arrange elections. However, ECOWAS declared on Monday that it categorically rejected this plan.
The African Union also expressed strong opposition to any external intervention in the situation by entities or nations beyond Africa, including activities by private military firms. This likely alludes to the Russian mercenary group Wagner, which is known to operate in nearby Mali.