The West African regional bloc ECOWAS says it has chosen an undisclosed “D-Day” for a possible military intervention to restore Niger’s democratically elected president following last month’s coup.
Abdel-Fatau Musah, the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace & Security of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc, said that military forces are “ready to go anytime the order is given” for military intervention in Niger.
“The D-day is also decided, which we are not going to disclose,” Musah told journalists after the two-day meeting of West African defense chiefs in the Ghanaian capital of Accra.
Last week, ECOWAS ordered the “activation” of a regional standby force to prepare itself to enter Niger, which was taken over by a military junta on July 26.
On Friday, Musah reiterated that the bloc’s priority remains “the restoration of the constitutional order in the shortest possible time.”
“We are not going to engage in endless dialogue. It must be fruitful,” the commissioner added.
He also called once again for the release of the country’s “legitimate” leader, the ousted president Mohamed Bazoum, who has been held under house arrest with his wife and son since he was overthrown by the armed junta.
Niger’s junta claimed it had gathered evidence to prosecute him for what it says amount to “high treason.”
Niger, which lies at the heart of Africa’s Sahel, was one of the few remaining democracies in the region.
Bazoum’s election win in 2021 marked a relatively peaceful transfer of power and capped years of military coups following Niger’s independence from France in 1960.
Leaders ECOWAS responded to the coup by enacting sanctions and issuing an ultimatum to the ruling military junta: stand down within a week or face a potential military intervention.
“That is why we say all options are on the table. If they [the junta] want to take the peaceful pathway to the restoration of constitutional order in the country, then we can stand down the military option because it is not our preferred option,” Musah said.
The commissioner said the bloc had decided that the “coup in Niger is one coup too many,” for the region, adding that there will be no further meetings of ECOWAS defense chiefs on the issue.
“We are putting a stop to it at this time,” Musah said in his concluding remarks.