The Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) follow-up response to the coup in Niger has drawn criticism from the Coalition of Muslim Organizations, Ghana (COMOG).
The form of intervention chosen by ECOWAS is a “misplaced option, as it would have more catastrophic consequences in the sub-region than anticipated,” according to a statement released by COMOG today, Friday, August 18, 2023.
The best course of action, in the opinion of COMOG, is to use “religious leadership intervention to negotiate for the restoration of democracy in Niger.”
“We are aware that Nigerian Muslim clerics are exploring that window and it will not be out of place for ECOWAS to consider same. It is our hope that the Government of Ghana will so heed to this suggestion.”
Furthermore, the Coalition raised worries about how sending troops from Ghana to Niger would affect the nation’s budget, “especially at a time when our economic indices are not in the best of shapes.”
According to the coalition, the government should be concerned about the degree of youth unemployment at this time given the security implications, as “military intervention can easily create accessibility to sophisticated weapons by the youth in the sub-region.”
It reiteratively stressed the need for a better solution to “the impasse in Niger other than military intervention”.
Public opposition of Ghana’s participation in providing troops to the West African Standing Force to combat the military dictatorship in Niger is growing in the meantime.
The action has been criticized by a number of civil society organizations, academics, politicians, and security specialists, who instead call for diplomatic efforts to settle the matter.
After meeting with a team of West African officials, the leader of the coup in Niger has offered a three-year handover of power and issued a warning that any attack on the nation would “not be a walk in the park” for those involved.
General Abdourahmane Tchiani said on national television late on Saturday that the guiding principles for the transfer would be settled upon within 30 days at a meeting that the ruling military council would convene. He did not provide any other information about the probable transition.
Following the coup on July 26, ECOWAS imposed harsh sanctions on Niger and commanded the deployment of a “standby force” to reinstate the country’s constitutional government. The group announced on Friday that 11 of its 15 members had committed to send troops to the operation on an unspecified “D-Day” for a potential military involvement.
Tchiani’s 12-minute address was filled with accusations that the regional group ECOWAS was “getting ready to attack Niger by setting up an occupying army in collaboration with a foreign army” and criticized the “illegal” and “inhuman” sanctions that had been put in place by the organization.
“I reaffirm here that our ambition is not to confiscate power. I also reaffirm our readiness to engage in any dialogue, as long as it takes into account the orientations desired by the proud and resilient people of Niger,” he added.