ECOWAS says “no option taken off the table,” including the use of force, to address coup in Niger

As an emergency ECOWAS summit on the situation in Niger closes, ECOWAS orders the activation of its standby force

August 10, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
The President of Economic Community of West African States Commission, Omar Touray, orders activation of ECOWAS standby force

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), led by Nigerian President Bola Tinubu said on Thursday, August 10 that “no option had been taken off the table,” in terms of addressing the coup in Niger. Tinibu made this statement at the conclusion of the second emergency ECOWAS summit on the situation in Niger. ECOWAS also ordered the activation of a force on standby to intervene militarily in Niger.

Social movements and left organizations in West Africa and internationally have been urging against any military intervention from foreign powers since the coup took place. On July 30, just days after the coup, ECOWAS had issued an ultimatum saying it would “take all measures necessary,” including “the use of force,” if the ousted president and his government were not restored by Sunday, August 6. The bloc’s push for the reinstatement of President Mohamed Bazoum has been echoed by imperialist forces such as France and the United States.

The coup and the installation of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) has been accompanied by a popular uprising which demands an end to French military presence and imperialist economic policies such as the imposition of the CFA franc and the exploitative extraction of Niger’s rich natural resources. Niger is the European Union’s second-largest supplier of uranium. The CNSP which took power on July 26 has strongly condemned the threats lodged against it by ECOWAS as well as its non-military actions such as imposing a no-fly zone and freezing Niger’s assets in its central and commercial banks. The CNSP has also been vocal in opposing Western demands for a reversal of the coup.

On August 6, 30,000 people gathered in Niger’s capital of Niamey to show their support to the coup government. The developments in Niger occur in the context of growing anti-imperialist sentiments across the region and coups of a similar anti-neocolonial nature in Burkina Faso and Mali. The two countries declared in a joint statement on July 31 that “any military intervention against Niger is tantamount to a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali” and that should ECOWAS go on to execute its threat, Burkina Faso and Mali will take “self-defense measures in support of the forces, armies and people of Niger.”

Burkina Faso’s interim leader recently spoke at the Russia–Africa Summit in late July, declaring, “We African heads of state must stop behaving like puppets who dance every time the imperialists pull the strings.”