By John Ikani
Niger’s coup leaders withdrew their country’s representative from Abidjan on Monday following comments by Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara that they deemed as endorsing “armed action” against Niamey.
In response to the approval from Niger’s neighbouring West African nations for a potential military intervention to reinstate democracy in the nation, the military rulers in a statement criticized Ouattara’s eagerness to witness “an unlawful and nonsensical aggression against Niger.”
After attending a summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja on Thursday, Ouattara announced that the heads of state had reached an agreement for a military operation to commence “as soon as possible.”
ECOWAS leaders at the summit reiterated their preference for a diplomatic approach to reinstate Bazoum, while also authorizing the deployment of a “ready force,” without furnishing details about any prospective West African military intervention.”
Ouattara stated that Ivory Coast would contribute a battalion of 850 to 1,100 troops, in collaboration with Nigeria and Benin.
“The coup leaders can choose to depart tomorrow morning, and there would be no military interference; it hinges on their decision,” he stressed, adding that “we are resolute in reinstating President (Mohamed) Bazoum.”
According to the statement from Niger’s coup leaders, the haste of this announcement “demonstrates the manipulation orchestrated by certain external powers,” without specifying further.
“Thus, the (leaders) and government of Niger vehemently reject the statements made by Ouattara, which exceed the common stance of the sub-regional entity ECOWAS… and have resolved to summon back the Niger ambassador from Abidjan for consultation.”