Russia Government under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin, on Friday, warned against a military intervention in Niger, a day after West African leaders said they would muster a “standby” force in their efforts to return the president toppled by a coup.
According to a report by AFP, the Russian foreign ministry stated that “we believe that a military solution to the crisis in Niger could lead to a protracted confrontation in that African nation, as well as to a sharp destabilisation of the situation in the Sahara-Sahel region as a whole.
Recall West African leaders approved the deployment of a “standby force to restore constitutional order” in Niger, an intervention that will take place as soon as possible, Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said Thursday.
The ECOWAS regional group has not given any information regarding the force that will be used or the timeline for taking action against the military officials who took over Niger two weeks ago and removed Mohamed Bazoum as president.
The emergency meeting was held in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, but upon his return to Abidjan, Ouattara stated: “The Chiefs of Staff will have other conferences to finalise things but they have the agreement of the Conference of Heads of State for the operation to start as soon as possible.”
According to Ouattara, a battalion of 850 to 1,100 soldiers from Ivory Coast would join soldiers from Nigeria and Benin. Additional nations would also join them.
“We are committed to restoring President Bazoum’s duties.”
Omar Touray, the president of the ECOWAS Commission, had earlier made the announcement in Abuja.
The movement of the army was previously announced by ECOWAS Commission President Omar Touray in Abuja.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised the “determination of ECOWAS to explore all options for the peaceful resolution of the crisis” in a statement on Thursday and called for a non-violent approach to undo the coup.
The bloc was “playing a key role in making clear the imperative of a return to constitutional order, and we very much support ECOWAS’ leadership and work on this”, he told reporters earlier Thursday.
According to the foreign ministry, France, a former colonial power, provided “full support to all the conclusions” made by ECOWAS.
But even as the summit took place, Niger’s new military rulers moved to consolidate their position and signalled further defiance by appointing a new government.
A 21-member cabinet will be headed by Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, a civilian, with generals from the new military governing council leading the defence and interior ministries.
The ECOWAS ultimatum of a week earlier to release Bazoum, who has been held since July 26, or risk military involvement, was already disregarded by the coup leaders.
President of Nigeria Bola Tinubu, who presided over the crisis conference in Abuja, declared that there is still hope for a “peaceful solution, as a roadmap to restore democracy and stability.”