The West African ECOWAS bloc has rejected the Niger mutinous soldiers’ proposal for a three-year transition to democracy. According to Abdel-Fatau Musah, the ECOWAS commissioner for peace and security, while diplomatic channels with Niger’s junta are still open, the bloc will not engage in prolonged discussions that yield no progress. Musah emphasized that the coup in Niger sets a dangerous precedent for the region, and the ECOWAS is determined to prevent a domino effect of coups. Despite ongoing direct talks and negotiations, Musah clarified that the door to diplomacy has a limited timeframe.
In a meeting between an ECOWAS delegation and Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, the head of Niger’s military regime, the delegation stressed ECOWAS’s demand for the release of ousted President Mohamed Bazoum and the restoration of constitutional order. ECOWAS had used Niger as a red line against further coups due to the region’s history of political instability.
ECOWAS has imposed stringent economic and travel sanctions and even threatened military action if Bazoum is not reinstated. The junta, however, remains defiant, appointing a new government and asserting a return to democracy within a few years.
Niger’s role as a democratic partner for Western nations in combating the Sahel region’s rising jihadi insurgency, connected to al-Qaida and the Islamic State, is jeopardized by the coup. The region accounted for a significant proportion of global terrorism deaths in 2022. While ECOWAS considers both external pressure and internal security forces’ unrest, the situation remains tense, with potential for conflict despite signs of pressure on the coup leaders.