ECOWAS defence chiefs meeting: Democracy must reign in Niger - Security experts
ECOWAS defence chiefs meeting: Democracy must reign in Niger - Security experts

ECOWAS defence chiefs meeting: Democracy must reign in Niger - Security experts

Retired military officer, Wg Cdr Kwaku Kekrebesi, has said that containing the military junta in Niger could deter other military adverturers in the West African sub-region.

“Militarily, an intervention force must enjoy the support of the people, otherwise it would be fighting two enemies.

Whatever the dilemma, containing the current situation could help to deter future adventurers, in my view,” he said.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, Wg Cdr Kekrebesi, however, said dialogue appeared a good way forward, particularly since the junta appeared to be enjoying some degree of support from the public.

Wg Cdr Kekrebesi’s comments come as ECOWAS military chiefs start a two-day meeting in Accra today in the latest effort by the sub-regional bloc to find a solution to the recent military coup in Niger.

The Committee of Chiefs of the Defence Staff will hold the extraordinary meeting at Burma Camp to deliberate on the charge of the Authority of Heads of State and Government to prepare a plan for a possible military intervention to topple the military junta and restore democratic rule in Niger.

At its Extraordinary Meeting in Abuja on the Niger situation last Thursday, the Authority of Heads of State and Government directed the Committee of Chiefs of the Defence Staff to immediately activate the ECOWAS Standby Force with all its elements.

The meeting, held at the instance of the ECOWAS Chairman and President of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was attended by nine Heads of State, including President Akufo-Addo.

The authority also gave the order for the committee of army chiefs to deploy the ECOWAS Standby Force to restore constitutional order in Niger.

It further directed the President of the ECOWAS Commission to monitor the implementation of sanctions on Niger, which included closing all borders to Niger and freezing the assets of all persons connected to the activities of the military junta.

The authority warned “member states who, by their action directly or indirectly, hinder the peaceful resolution of the crisis in Niger about the consequences of their action before the community”.

A communique issued at the end of the Abuja meeting called on the African Union to endorse all the decisions taken by ECOWAS on the situation in Niger.

It further urged all partner countries and institutions, including the United Nations, to support ECOWAS in its efforts to ensure a quick restoration of constitutional order in Niger in conformity with its normative instrument.

But Wg Cdr Kekrebesi said it seemed everyone had forgotten the threat issued by the jihadists.

“In sum, ECOWAS’ missed step must be reversed quickly, the embargo on Niger lifted immediately.

Nigeria must restore power to the country, while the French enigma is dealt with thoroughly.

This is the way forward for a meaningful dialogue with the authorities in Niamey,” he said.

He said it was becoming clear now that the regional organisation's initial handling of the coup in Niger was responsible for the difficult attitude being shown by the leadership in Niamey.

“ECOWAS may be torn between serving a strong warning to future coup makers, and containing the current situation with a view to reversing it.

“The about-turn can be made to soften the ECOWAS stand on the issue.

First, power from Nigeria must be restored immediately.

I understand that Algeria has promised to give Niger power for free,” he said.

Other experts

Meanwhile, three other international relations and security experts have appealed to the leadership of ECOWAS to employ dialogue and diplomacy in the effort to restore democratic rule in Niger.

That, they said, was to prevent the situation from escalating into a bloody encounter that could have implications on trade, business, livelihood and security in general.

The experts, who spoke to the Daily Graphic in separate interviews, were the Director of Academic Affairs at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Professor Vladimir Antwi-Danso; Director, Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Professor Emmanuel Kwesi Aning; and two retired military officers, Col Festus Aboagye and Wg Cdr Kwaku Kekrebesi.

Explore

Prof. Antwi-Danso said there was the need to explore all means of getting the junta to sit down with leaders in the region and prepare the ground for a return to civilian administration.

“The employment of force is farfetched because what would be the end game?

We are likely to exacerbate the situation and clear the way for maybe some kind of instability over there, some kind of civil war and exacerbating insurgency situation,” he said, adding that “if part of the military joins the jihadists, for example, in trying to be part of the war, then we are escalating the issue over there in Niger.”

Already, he said, Niger was reeling under the onslaught of jihadists, and that it was one of the reasons there was a coup

“So, do we want to exacerbate the situation or do we want to ameliorate it?” he asked.

Prof. Antwi-Danso said if West African leaders wanted peace in the region, then there was no need to employ military action now. 

Intervention

Prof. Aning said the fact that the Chiefs of Defence Staff of ECOWAS were meeting in Accra today and preparing an intervention plan did not mean that they would intervene.

He said there were several options for engagements.

“There is the option for mediation, and don’t forget that Niger is also a member of the Accra Initiative, so that gives Ghana an opportunity to use backdoor channels through the Accra Initiative Framework also to engage the people in Niamey.

So all options are on the table,” he said.

Prof. Aning said his expectations were that although the Chiefs of Defence Staff would draw up an intervention plan, they would also suggest for consideration that mediation and negotiation were given a chance because the junta was ready for negotiation.

But in all negotiation processes, he said, there was the need to negotiate from the position of strength.

He said for the security chiefs, mediation was not their main interest now, and that they had been ordered to present a plan for intervention.

He said they would develop that plan but they would go ahead to court pointing to the actual misappropriation of the common wealth of the people of Ghana that has deprived the people from benefiting from it,” the court held.

The court therefore dismissed reliefs of the plaintiffs, including the cardinal one which was that the Agyapa deal was a violation of Article 21(1) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which stipulates that natural resources of African countries would be utilised in the interest of citizens of such countries.

The three-member panel of the court which sat on the case in Abuja included Justice Dupe Atoki from Nigeria, Justice Sengu Mohammed Koroma from Sierra Leone and Justice Ricardo Claudio Monteiro Goncalves from Cape Verde.
 

Vindication

The NPP Director of Communications said at the heart of the matter was the establishment of Agyapa Royalties Limited, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) owned solely by the government through the Minerals Income Investment Fund.

He explained that the entity aimed to publicly list up to 49 per cent of its shares on the London Stock Exchange, sparking extensive debates and accusations in the lead-up to the 2020 general election.

Mr Ahiagba praised the ECOWAS Court's ruling, emphasising that it solidified the government's steadfast commitment to transparent and legitimate practices.

He also commended the GII and the GACC for utilising their right to seek legal recourse and stated that the court's verdict had comprehensively addressed their concerns.

"The ruling serves as a testament to the rule of law and the importance of civil society's role in ensuring accountability," Mr Ahiagba stated.

The NPP Communications Director also referenced President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo's call for active citizenship, citing the civil society groups' actions as a manifestation of that principle.

Mr Ahiagba said CSOs played an integral role in holding the government accountable, acknowledging that constructive criticism and concerns were vital in the democratic process.

He encouraged a continued dialogue between the government and those organisations for the betterment of the nation.

The NPP’s Director of Communications said the ruling was expected to bring closure to a contentious chapter and reaffirm the rule of law as a cornerstone of democratic governance in the country.

Background

Parliament passed the Minerals Income Investment Fund Act, 2018 (MIIF Act 978) with the key objective of maximising the county’s mineral wealth for the benefit of Ghanaians, while ensuring that receiving royalties from gold mining companies was sustainable.

The law was amended to enable it to incorporate subsidiaries and to use it as a special purpose vehicle to do business across the world.

The main subsidiary of the MIIF and holding company, Agyapa Royalties Investment Ltd, will be listed on the LSE, while its subsidiary, ARG Royalties Ltd, will be quoted on the Ghana Stock Exchange, both through initial public offerings.

The company will be responsible for managing 75.6 per cent of the country’s royalty inflow from the 12 gold mining companies that currently operate in Ghana, with four more expected to come on stream.

Writer’s email: [email protected]

Connect With Us : 0242202447 | 0551484843 | 0266361755 | 059 199 7513 |