ECOWAS general says troops are not ready for an intervention in Niger bloc needs time to generate forces the WSJ reports
Members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are not ready to stage a full-scale intervention in Niger, where a military junta has seized power, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing sources.
Last month, ECOWAS, a regional bloc comprising 15 countries, issued a seven-day ultimatum threatening military action against Niger’s plotters if they did not reinstate deposed President Mohamed Bazoum. The junta, however, refused to back down.
The deadline for the ultimatum passed on Sunday with no sign of any armed intervention or mobilization in Niger’s neighboring countries.
Speaking to the WSJ, an unnamed senior commander from one of the ECOWAS countries signaled that the bloc was still unprepared for a full-scale operation. “For the moment, we need to build up the strength of our units before taking part in such a military action,” he said, adding that its success hinges on good preparation.
The delay also comes as Burkina Faso and Mali, two regional countries led by juntas, warned that any military intervention in Niger “would be tantamount to a declaration of war” against them.
Against this backdrop, the commander told the WSJ that ECOWAS would continue to squeeze the junta in Niger with economic sanctions while seeking to extend the trade embargo by asking other international bodies such as the African Union to get on board with the restrictions.
Niger’s coup-imposed government has promised “a vigorous and instantaneous response” to any violation of the country’s airspace.
“Faced with the threat of intervention which is becoming clearer from neighboring countries, Niger’s airspace is closed from this day on Sunday… until further notice,” the military government announced.
The statement, as cited by AFP, warned that “any attempt to violate the airspace” will result in a “vigorous and instantaneous response.”
The National Council for the Safeguarding of the Homeland, which assumed power in a military coup last month, claimed that hostile regional forces have already conducted “pre-deployment in preparation for the intervention” in two unnamed countries of Central Africa.“Any state involved will be considered co-belligerent,” it added.
The coup in Niger took place on July 26 when the presidential guard detained Bazoum and his family, sparking international condemnation, including from the US, France, the EU, and Russia.
Meanwhile, Colonel Amadou Abdramane, a spokesperson of the group that took power, said the coup had sought to “put an end to the regime that you know due to the deteriorating security situation and bad governance.” The junta’s transitional government is now headed by General Abdourahamane Tchiani, who has been the chief of the presidential guard since 2011.
Source Wall Street Journal/Reuters/RT/Le Figaro