No need to shed blood in Niger, exhaust diplomatic avenues - Catholic Bishops to ECOWAS
The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) has urged ECOWAS leaders to explore and exhaust all other diplomatic avenues to help avoid bloodshed and chaos in Niger.
They have also called on the regional bloc not to use force in restoring constitutional rule in Niger.
While the Bishops are equally concerned about the situation in Niger, as it has the potential to fuel even further anarchy and insecurity in the region, the use of military force to remedy the situation should not even be contemplated, the Bishops said in a statement.
“It is the position of the Conference that the idea of an ECOWAS military intervention for the restoration of the constitutional regime in Niger should not even be contemplated,” it said.
In a statement signed by the President of the Conference, Most Reverend Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi on Thursday, August 24, 2023, the Bishops said such an intervention could further exacerbate an already tense situation putting vulnerable populations in peril.
“We should note that already Mali and Burkina Faso have dispatched warplanes to Niger in response to a potential military intervention by ECOWAS. Moreover, Burkina Faso has threatened to withdraw from ECOWAS if the bloc intervenes militarily in Niger.
“In line with the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. John 14:27), we, as a Conference, are opposed to any military intervention against the coup makers in Niger, as this will exacerbate the already precarious situation in that country where civilians such as women, children, aged, weak and vulnerable in society are bearing the biggest brunt of the chaotic situation,” it said.
“This will require further engagements with the coup leaders to discuss a concrete roadmap for the situation. The Conference is confident that this approach will enable all parties and the mediators to speedily design long-lasting solutions to the situation in Niger.”
It added that “The Conference, as a member of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA), made up of the Catholic Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops in West Africa, reiterates the position of RECOWA, which calls for restraint on the part of the ECOWAS leaders for the use of force to restore constitutional regime in Niger.
The group further raised concerns that for "the past three years, the West African Sub-region has been plagued with a series of coups d’état after years of the continent’s attempt to deepen democratic governance,”
He continued: “This situation started with the Republic of Mali in 2020, Guinea in 2021, Burkina Faso in 2022 and now Niger in 2023. The Conference further urges the Government of Ghana to refrain from the use of force and likewise urges its colleague leaders to do same.”