Use dialogue to restore democracy in Niger - AFRO-GLOBAL to ECOWAS leaders
The Africa Centre of Global Engagement and Diplomacy (AFRO-GLOBAL), a research think tank, has urged the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) leaders to resort to dialogue in restoring democracy in Niger.
It said while the military takeover in Niger was unfortunate, ECOWAS leaders must reconsider the military option and allow dialogue and diplomacy to work.
In a statement issued in Accra last Friday and signed by the Director/Lead Research of AFRO-GLOBAL, Professor Lord Mawuko-Yevugah, the centre said it strongly believed the situation needed a diplomatic solution and not a military solution.
“Our call is based on the understanding that military solution has never had a predictable outcome,” the centre said.
The centre said there were too many unanswered issues that might undermine a credible ECOWAS-led intervention.
It said there were reports that suggested that France and the United States of America have over 1,500 and 1,100 troops respectively in Niger.
It, therefore, asked what would be the role of those foreign troops in the event of an ECOWAS-led intervention, questioning how will their role undermine the image and independence of ECOWAS.
“Another dimension is the ethnicity at play in this crisis, with the ousted President being seen as coming from the minority foreign Arab ethnicity against the coup makers' ‘native’ ethnicity.
Would the ethnic kith and kin of the coup makers become involved as armed civilians?
“If they get involved, how easy would it be to reconcile the society even if ECOWAS succeeds in restoring the democratic order,” Prof. Mawuko-Yevugah asked.
Pointing out reports of the coup makers seeking the assistance of the Russian mercenary group Wegner, the AFRO-GLOBAL also sought to know if ECOWAS was prepared for a war that might become a proxy of superpowers.
“In view of the general poor economic situation in the sub-region, who will pay for the cost of the intervention? Will it be the struggling economies of the region or a foreign power?” it asked.
The centre, therefore, appealed to regional leaders to be cautious of the involvement of foreign powers in the ongoing process.
It appeared to any observer that France seemed more interested in the return to power of the ousted leader than the people of Niger, it said.
It explained that comments by French officials on the ECOWAS position and the planned military intervention only went to deepen suspicion about
the neutrality of ECOWAS.
“France is a party to the current crisis and must restrain itself from any issues relating to efforts by ECOWAS to resolve the crisis.
“We, therefore, urge the French government and other powers to refrain from comments that may undermine the efforts aimed at resolving the crisis,” it said.
The centre added that given that Algeria had so far played a constructively positive role by not appearing confrontational as ECOWAS, the group might engage Algeria to play a mediating role in the crisis.
“ECOWAS needs to engage Russia, China and any other power that may likely come to the aid of the coup makers to prevent them from intervening on the side of the coup makers.
“This will enable the sanctions to be effective,” it said and also urged the regional leaders to isolate foreign powers, particularly France from any solution it adopted to resolve the crisis.
“The sanctions imposed by ECOWAS should be used to negotiate a timetable for a return to civilian rule where every achieved target will result in the lifting of specific sanctions.
“ECOWAS must find military resources to replace foreign troops--French and US troops—in Niger as part of the processes to ensure peace and stability of the country,” it added.