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Niger War: Mali, Burkina Faso Deploy Warplanes, As ECOWAS Troops Strategise

AMID mounting pressure by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to restore civilian rule in the Niger Republic, Burkina Faso and Mali have deployed warplanes to the Niger Republic in response to ECOWAS’ military intervention threat.

This is just as military staff of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger Republic met to discuss a joint defence strategy in response to the announcement of military intervention by the ECOWAS.

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A local media had reported on Saturday that the military personnel met in Niamey to decide on “concrete measures” in case ECOWAS chooses to “escalate a war.”

Niger’s state television reported that both Burkina Faso and Mali declared that any military intervention in Niger will be considered a declaration of war against them.

The station reported that the warplanes deployed on Friday are Super Tucano fighter jets.

“Mali and Burkina Faso turned their commitments into concrete action by deploying warplanes to respond to any attack on Niger,” it said.

According to a joint statement by the two countries, they said “the disastrous consequences of a military intervention could destabilise the entire region.”

Meanwhile, an ECOWAS delegation, on Saturday, met with Niger Republic coup leader, General Abdourahamane Tchiani and ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in Niamey, the nation’s capital.

An ECOWAS source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the delegation was received by the junta-appointed Prime Minister, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, at Niamey airport.

While previous ECOWAS missions have been rebuffed, the source told Reuters that the meeting between the ECOWAS delegation and Niger authorities was held in the evening.

The source also added that General Tchiani later met the ECOWAS delegation in the evening.

According to the source, the delegation that flew into Niamey was led by Nigeria’s former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar. Other members of the delegation included Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar and the ECOWAS commission president, Omar Touray.

Recall that Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger Republic were kicked out of ECOWAS after successive coups put the three countries under military rule.

In response to the coup that occurred in the country about three weeks ago, ECOWAS declared on Friday that its forces were ready to intervene in Niger Republic “once the order is given.”

The assurance was given after deliberations of military chiefs from nine out of the 15-member countries at a two-day meeting in Ghana’s capital, Accra.

ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, Abdel-Fatau Musah said all options, including a diplomatic solution, remain on the table.

According to him, if the ECOWAS mission’s travel to Niger fails, the regional bloc would resort to a military solution to restore constitutional order in the country.

Though a specific date for a military intervention was arrived at, the ECOWAS commissioner said it cannot be made public.

At the meeting, all member states except those ruled by the military, as well as Cape Verde, reportedly agreed to participate.

Bayero urges Nigerians to pray for Allah’s intervention

Meanwhile, the Emir of Bichi, Alhaji Nasir Ado Bayero, has called on Nigerians to pray for Allah’s intervention in the political crisis in Niger Republic.

He stated this while urging the ECOWAS leadership to consider diplomatic options rather than military intervention to resolve the crisis.

He noted that applying forces will affect Nigeria, particularly states that border Niger Republic such as Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Yobe and Sokoto States.

Speaking during the annual Tijjaniya Zikiri and prayers organised in his palace, Alhaji Bayero said the situation in Niger Republic needs prayers and dialogue to resolve it amicably.

He pointed out Niger Republic and Nigeria are brothers in terms of religion, culture and other day-to-day activities, adding that the country needs special prayers to protect any attempt that would destroy it.

Nigeriens in Kano condemn coup in peaceful protest

In a related development, hundreds of Niger Republic nationals residing in Kano State have staged a peaceful protest in condemnation of the coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.

The protesters led by Lawwali Mamman Barma appealed to the military junta to unconditionally release Bazoum and other persons that were kidnapped during the coup of July 16, 2023.

Barma further urged ECOWAS not act on its plan to enforce military actions in the Niger Republic, stressing that dialogue is the best approach to resolve conflict.

“We should always remember that prior to the military intervention in the Niger Republic, the country under President Bazoum was experiencing a growth in peace, economy and political development,” he said.

Muslim women organisation seeks restraint on ECOWAS sanctions

In the same vein, the Federation of Muslim Women’s Organisations in Nigeria (FOMWAN) has called for a restraint on the sanctions imposed on Niger Republic by ECOWAS.

The association said it was more particularly concerned that women and children were most likely to bear the brunt of the political actions of the ECOWAS states.

FOMWAN in a statement signed by its National Amirah and the Public Relations Officer, Mrs Sanni Rafiah-Idowu and Maimuna Momodu, respectively, urged ECOWAS to consider the effect of the sanctions on the politics and economy of the region.

The Muslim women’s union in the statement, a copy of which was obtained by NAN said: “Strongly united under FOMWAN, we implore that ECOWAS critically looks at the bigger picture.

“This is with a view to determining what value her actions will add to the region generally, politically and economically.

“ECOWAS must realise that border closure and electricity cuts adversely affect livelihoods by deepening poverty among ordinary citizens of Niger Republic, a country that ranks 7th in global poverty.

“Sanctions will also affect the economies of the neighbouring countries – Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Benin Republics and Nigeria.

“The seven Northern states in Nigeria that share borders with Niger Republic- Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi, Zamfara, Sokoto, Yobe, and Borno – are already dislocated either by the ravages of Boko Haram, banditry or kidnappings to be further denied livelihoods arising from sanctions.

“FOMWAN calls for the removal of the sanctions to reduce the sufferings of the people. Sanctions at this stage definitely have no value-addition.”

It said that 11.2 million people were already displaced in West Africa and Central African Republic, according to the 2022 Report of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

It noted that women and girls constituted about 6.7 million of this number while children constituted 1.7 million.

According to the association, ECOWAS needs to arrest this trend as a regional body because it affects the education of children and exposes women and girls to sexual exploitation and other forms of violence.

Source: Sunday Tribune

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