A senior official revealed on Friday that West African bloc ECOWAS has established a “D-day” for a potential military intervention to reinstate democracy in Niger in case diplomatic initiatives prove ineffective.
The official, however, did not disclose the specific date of this intervention.
The official made the comments at the end of a two-day meeting of West African army chiefs in Ghana’s capital Accra, where they have been hashing out the logistics and strategy for a possible use of force in Niger that ECOWAS has said would be a last resort.
“We are ready to go anytime the order is given,” ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Abdel-Fatau Musah said during the closing ceremony.
“The D-Day is also decided.”
“We’ve already agreed and fine-tuned what will be required for the intervention,” he said.
“As we speak we are still readying (a) mediation mission into the country, so we have not shut any door.”
After military officers ousted Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26, they have resisted appeals from the United Nations, ECOWAS, and other entities to restore him to power.
This resistance has led the regional bloc to arrange the formation of a standby force.
The majority of its 15 member states are ready to contribute to the collective force, with the exception of those currently under military rule, namely Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, and the small nation of Cape Verde, ECOWAS official said on Thursday.
Military leaders have refrained from disclosing the number of deployed troops or providing other strategic particulars.
Any potential intervention could exacerbate the instability in West Africa’s impoverished Sahel region, which is already grappling with a longstanding Islamist insurgency.
Niger’s significance extends beyond West Africa due to its uranium and oil reserves, as well as its role as a pivotal center for foreign troops engaged in countering insurgents affiliated with Al Qaeda and Islamic State.