ECOWAS says Niger military intervention is a ‘last resort’

West Africa’s regional bloc stated on Wednesday that military intervention in junta-ruled Niger would be considered “the last resort,” while Nigeria escalated pressure on the country’s coup leaders by cutting electricity supplies.

Military chiefs from the regional bloc were convening to formulate a response, and a delegation was in Niger for negotiations, one week after a coup rocked the fragile nation and led to the evacuation of French citizens by the ex-colonial power, France.

On Sunday, leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed trade and financial sanctions and issued a one-week ultimatum to the coup leaders, demanding the reinstatement of Niger’s democratically elected president. Adding that failure to comply could result in the potential use of force.

Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs, peace, and security, stated that the military option is the final measure on the table, the last resort, but they must be prepared for the possibility.

Speaking at the beginning of a three-day meeting of the grouping’s military chiefs in the Nigerian capital Abuja, Musah also mentioned that an ECOWAS team led by former Nigerian leader Abdulsalami Abubakar was in Niger to engage in negotiations.

Nigeria, as the military and economic superpower of West Africa, currently holds the chairmanship of ECOWAS.

Nigeria has pledged to adopt a firm stance against coups that have increased in the region since 2020, with most of them occurring due to the escalating threat of a violent militant insurgency.

As a consequence of the sanctions imposed, a source from Niger’s power company confirmed that Nigeria has terminated its electricity supply to its neighbor.

According to a source at Nigelec, the country’s monopoly supplier, “Since yesterday, Nigeria has disconnected the high-voltage line transporting electricity to Niger,” as reported by media.

Niger, being one of the world’s poorest countries, relies on Nigeria for 70 percent of its power needs, purchasing it from the Nigerian company Mainstream, as confirmed by Nigelec.

Mali and Burkina Faso, both ruled by juntas, have issued a warning that any military intervention in their neighbor, Niger, would be seen as a “declaration of war” against them.

According to sources from a senior Nigerien official and a Malian security official, General Salifou Mody, one of the coup leaders in Niger, arrived in Mali’s capital, Bamako, on Wednesday, accompanied by a delegation. However, no further details were provided.

The Russian foreign ministry in Moscow called for “urgent national dialogue” in Niger on Wednesday and cautioned that threats of intervention “will not aid in easing tensions or calming the domestic situation.”

Europeans run in fear

Following demonstrations over the weekend, France has arranged additional evacuation flights from the capital, Niamey, on Wednesday.

The French army has announced that two final flights have been arranged for Wednesday.

Italy reported that it successfully evacuated 99 Italians and other nationals residing in Niger, who arrived in Rome early Wednesday.

Germany has advised its citizens to leave Niger, while the United States, which has 1,100 troops stationed in the country, has chosen not to evacuate Americans at this time.

Scroll to Top