Nigeria’s President and ECOWAS Chairman, Bola Tinubu, firmly called for action rather than mere warning signals during his welcome address to the leaders of the Economic Community of West African States in Abuja. The meeting was convened to address the recent coup in Niger Republic, which resulted in President Mohammmed Bazoum being detained after being overthrown by members of his presidential guard.
Tinubu emphasized the need to be “strong, forceful, and resolute” in ensuring the reinstatement of President Bazoum. Following the extraordinary meeting, the ECOWAS leaders issued a one-week ultimatum to the military junta holding President Bazoum hostage, demanding his immediate reinstatement as the legitimate President.
ECOWAS made it clear that they have “zero-tolerance” for any unconstitutional change of government in the region and firmly stated that President Bazoum remains the rightful leader of Niger. The organization condemned the overthrow and detention in the strongest terms possible.
The African Union and the international community have already recognized Bazoum as the legitimate, elected president of Niger, and any purported resignation from him was rejected by ECOWAS.
The leaders also asserted that if the authorities’ demands were not met within the given timeframe, ECOWAS would take all necessary measures, including the use of force, to restore constitutional order in Niger. They also promised to hold those responsible for violence and terror against Niger’s citizens accountable.
ECOWAS condemned foreign governments and private military contractors, seemingly referring to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian mercenary and leader of the Wagner group, for their pronouncements of support.
Immediate actions decided upon by ECOWAS include the closure of land and air borders within member countries and the establishment of an echo no-fly zone for commercial flights to and from Asia. There will be a freezing of assets and suspension of all financial assistance transactions involving entities that supported the coup attempt.
The organization also imposed travel bans and asset freezes for military officials involved in the coup attempt, as well as for their family members and civilians supporting their cause.
In line with their demands, a representative of the ECOWAS Chair will be dispatched to Niger to deliver the ultimatum and expectations.