May 21, 2024

Declan Galvin, a political analyst based in Kenya, has cautioned leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) about the potential repercussions of mishandling the situation in Niger Republic, which could lead to destabilization in the sub-region. This warning was voiced during an exclusive interview with Rudolf Okonkwo on 90MinutesAfrica.

The former editor of Sahara Reporters, now a risk management professional, highlighted the existing security challenges in West Africa, including issues in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Nigeria. He stressed that the addition of the current Niger situation to these challenges could risk destabilizing the entire sub-region.

Following a recent military coup that ousted Niger’s elected government led by Mohammed Bazoum, tensions have escalated between Niger and ECOWAS. Under the leadership of Nigeria’s president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, ECOWAS has imposed rigorous economic and diplomatic sanctions on the military government. Additionally, there’s a threat of military intervention to reinstate democratic order if the coup leaders fail to return power to the elected government.

These actions have caused divisions within the region, as Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea have expressed support for the Nigerien coup leaders. Mali and Burkina Faso have even pledged to assist Niger if ECOWAS deploys military force against the country.

However, the political analyst doubts the real capabilities of the coup leaders and their supporters, suggesting that they might be more talk than action. He emphasizes the importance of ECOWAS addressing the situation effectively.

He proposes that a Nigerian military deployment under an ECOWAS mandate would be the most practical solution to resolve the deadlock. In his view, properly financed and with a clear mission mandate, such a deployment would be more effective than a multilateral approach.

Drawing a parallel to the 2016 situation in The Gambia, when Yahya Jammeh refused to relinquish power after losing the presidential election, the analyst mentioned that ECOWAS managed to force Jammeh’s departure through Senegalese forces. He underlines that a similar approach could work in Niger but requires careful management due to its complexity.

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