ECOWAS defence chiefs at end of 3 day meeting says it will pursue peaceful dialogue and engage with all stakeholders for a peaceful transition to democracy
The Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) Chiefs of Defence Staff on Friday, agreed to place dialogue at the forefront of the regional body’s approach to resolving the crisis in Niger Republic.
The bloc said it acknowledged the need for a comprehensive approach that encompasses political, security, and diplomatic dimensions.
The chairman of the region’s Defence Chiefs, Nigeria’s General Musa Christopher, stated this while reading the communiqué from the meeting to journalists in Abuja.
Defence Chiefs from Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Togo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Côte D’Ivoire, Cape Verde, Senegal, and Guinea Bissau were in Nigeria for a meeting to plan military operations against the military junta in Niger.
He said, “We have acknowledged the need for a comprehensive approach that encompasses political, security, and diplomatic dimensions. It is imperative that we translate our deliberations into concrete actions that can effectively address the crisis and prevent a recurrence in the future.“
Firstly, we must emphasise the importance of upholding democratic principles and the rule of law. The coup in the Niger Republic represents a blatant disregard for these fundamental principles that underpin our regional integration and stability. We must unequivocally condemn such actions and demonstrate our unwavering commitment to democracy.
“Secondly, we must strengthen our regional security architecture and enhance our collective response to security challenges. The coup in the Niger Republic has highlighted the fragility of our region and the need for a robust and proactive security framework.
ECOWAS Defence chiefs
“We must enhance intelligence sharing, joint training exercises, and capacity-building initiatives among our defense and security forces to effectively combat threats to our collective security and enhance interoperability.
“Thirdly, we must intensify our diplomatic efforts to engage with all relevant stakeholders. Dialogue and negotiation should be at the forefront of our approach to resolving the crisis in the Republic of Niger. We must engage with the transitional authorities, civil society organisations, and other key actors to foster an inclusive and peaceful transition process. ”
Musa urged other Defence Chiefs to ensure that their expertise and resources are channelled to tackle insecurity in the region.
The Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, ECOWAS, Ambassador Abdel-Fatau Musah, said the authority of the Heads of State of ECOWAS was committed to eradicating all forms of unconstitutional takeover of power in the sub-region.
Musah said the threat of military takeover in West Africa had become pronounced in recent times, saying that efforts must be made to address the situation if the region must not become the laughing stock of Africa and the world.
“Respected chiefs of defense staff of our region, this is a clarion call to you. This is a test of the will of our militaries to demonstrate that we are having a democratically minded military whose responsibility is the protection of the state.
“So diplomacy is being given a chance to succeed and like we said, the military option is the very last on the table. And if we can avoid that, a peaceful resolution is our preferred option but we have to prepare for all eventualities.”
Akowe with reports from Abuja