Benin’s foreign minister on Friday advocated for diplomacy as the preferred approach to addressing the coup in Niger. Additionally, the minister affirmed Benin’s complete endorsement of the efforts made by the West African bloc ECOWAS to find a resolution for the crisis.
“The position of ECOWAS, to which Benin adheres, is to free and reinstate President Bazoum,” stated Olushegun Adjadi Bakari during a media briefing in Cotonou, though he indicated that this position might be subject to change.
“Ongoing diplomatic actions remain the preferred solution for all for the moment. But if tomorrow… whatever actions ECOWAS takes, Benin would align itself with that action as an ECOWAS member,” Bakari said.
Chaired by Nigeria, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has imposed stringent sanctions on Niamey. Nevertheless, on Thursday, an ECOWAS delegation also engaged with junta representatives after the military’s removal of elected President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26.
ECOWAS, whose delegation was unable to hold talks with coup leader Abdourahamane Tiani, has set a deadline until Sunday for the military rulers to reinstate Bazoum or face the possibility of intervention, as cautioned by the organization.
However, the junta retorted that it would retaliate using force.
ECOWAS stated on Wednesday that force would only be considered as a final option and expressed its preference for a diplomatic resolution.
The general chiefs of staff from ECOWAS member states convened in Abuja on Friday to deliberate on the situation in Niger. Meanwhile, several West African nations, Senegal included, have committed to deploying troops if the bloc decides to intervene.
The leaders of the coup have vowed to swiftly retaliate against any external “aggression.”
Niger’s neighboring countries, Mali and Burkina Faso, both governed by military juntas after coups within the last three years, and currently under suspension from ECOWAS, have extended their support to the military authorities in Niamey.
Both nations have also cautioned that they would view any armed intervention as a “declaration of war.”