ECOWAS military meeting suspended indefinitely for technical reasons as Cape Verde says it will not contribute troops to the standby force
A meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) scheduled to hold in Accra, the Ghanaian capital, Saturday has been suspended indefinitely due to “technical reasons”. Military sources say.
The suspension comes after member state Cape Verde opposed any military intervention in Niger under the organization’s auspices, President Jose Maria Neves said Cape Verde will not be contributing or supporting any military action in Niger.
President Jose Maria Neves of Cape Verde
“We all should work to restore constitutional order in Niger but in no way through a military intervention or an armed conflict at this point. We should actively engage in talks and resolve issues diplomatically because any military intervention will make the situation worse, turning the region into an explosive zone,” Agence France-Presse quoted him as saying.
Neves added that Cape Verde was unlikely to join a potential military operation in Niger. Military chiefs of staff from ECOWAS were set to attend a meeting on Saturday in Ghana’s capital Accra, regional military sources had said on Friday.
But they later said that it had been suspended indefinitely for “technical reasons”. The sources said the meeting was originally set up to inform the organisation’s leaders about “the best options” for activating and deploying the standby force.
Thousands of coup supporters rallied near a French military base in Niger on Friday. Protesters near the base on the outskirts of the capital Niamey shouted “down with France, down with Ecowas”.
Niger’s new leaders have accused ex-colonial power France, a close Bazoum ally, of being behind the hardline Ecowas stance against the coup.
Many brandished Russian and Niger flags and shouted their support for the country’s new strongman, General Abdurahmane Tchiani.
“We are going to make the French leave! Ecowas isn’t independent, it’s being manipulated by France,” said one demonstrator, Aziz Rabeh Ali, a member of a students’ union.
Bazoum, who remains in custody in his residence after he was toppled in a coup in late July, was allowed to see a doctor, the AFP news agency reported on Saturday.
According to the report, the doctor also brought some food for the ousted president and his family. He also examined Bazoum’s wife and son, who are staying with him in the presidential palace.
“ECOWAS has legitimate grounds to intervene in Niger and does not need the approval of the UN Security Council,” the bloc’s Commissioner for Peace and Security Abdel-Fatau Musah was quoted as saying by Qatar’s television channel Al Jazeera.
“During our previous interventions, we notified the UN Security Council only after we had used military means,” he said.
According to Musah, “Niger has no public consensus concerning the support of the rebels” who ousted Bazoum on July 26.
Meanwhile diplomacy is at the top of the agenda. The bloc intends to dispatch a parliamentary delegation to Niger for negotiations with the rebels, Reuters reported citing a parliament spokesperson.
The ECOWAS delegation plans to meet with leaders of the rebels who ousted Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum, the news agency reported.
AFP reported earlier in the day that a delegation of Nigeria’s religious leaders had arrived in Niamey on a mediation mission.
“Russia supports ECOWAS’s mediating efforts aimed at finding ways out of the current crisis.” Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“We believe that a military solution to the crisis in Niger could lead to a protracted confrontation in that African country and to a sharp destabilisation of the situation in the Sahara-Sahel region as a whole.” Moscow added.
On July 26, military rebels in Niger announced the removal of President Mohamed Bazoum, the closure of national borders, the introduction of a curfew and the suspension of the constitution, as well as a ban on political parties.
The National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (Conseil national pour la sauvegarde de la patrie, CNSP) was formed to govern the country and was headed by General Abdurahmane Tchiani.
Akowe with reports from Abuja