We’ve not given up on peaceful resolution of Niger crisis, says ECOWAS president



Omar Touray, president of the Economic Community of West African Commission (ECOWAS), says the decision of the regional body to deploy standby military troops in the Niger Republic does not translate to a country fighting another.


After its second extraordinary meeting held in Abuja on Thursday, ECOWAS directed the deployment of standby military troops to restore constitutional order in the francophone country.


The decision to deploy force comes days after the military junta in Niger defied the ECOWAS deadline to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.


Speaking during a press conference at the end of the sit-down to explain ECOWAS’ position, Touray reiterated that the bloc has been engaging in peaceful and diplomatic efforts to effect the restoration of constitutional order in Niger.


 “May I use this opportunity to say one thing and one thing alone? This is ECOWAS, made up of 15 member countries, as you have seen, who’ve met and decided on the way forward on this matter,” Touray said.


“It is not one country against another country. It is not the community against one country, the community has its instruments to which all members have subscribed and it is now up to the heads of state and incumbent upon them to make sure the provisions of the various instruments are applied and implemented.


“So let us look at this as a community initiative, a community action, not an individual country going against another country, and ECOWAS is not going against ECOWAS citizens. ECOWAS is trying to implement principles of the community that we have all subscribed to. That is very important.


 “There is a lot of information out there, trying to present this as one country against another country. That is not the situation and the leaders have made it clear that they are taking responsibility and acting in accordance with their own plans and intentions.


“It is not that we have anything against any country or any people, this is a regional position. Please let us send that message out. This is a regional position, it is not one country against another.


“So I think we should put the blame on those people who have taken the initiative to remove a constitutionally elected head of state.


“We have all agreed to abide by the constitutional order, abide by the constitutional rule, so when constitutional order is broken, there are consequences and that is what the heads of state are trying to apply.”


Asked why the body was insisting on using force when Niger citizens are opposed to it, he said: “I think the communiqué is very clear; the window for the restoration of constitutional order through peaceful means remains open.


“Nobody should consider this as the only option opened to ECOWAS. ECOWAS has been engaged in peaceful and diplomatic efforts to effect the restoration of constitutional order in Niger and the communiqué has made it very clear; the authority has kept that window open.”


On mobilisation of the standby force and funding, Touray said “appropriate measures are being taken”.


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