West Africa’s ECOWAS bloc plans to send a parliamentary committee to Niger in an effort to meet with the coup leaders who took control of the country last month. The military in Niger imprisoned President Mohamed Bazoum and dissolved the elected government, sparking condemnation from regional powers and triggering concerns of further conflict in the region. The ECOWAS, the United States, and other countries have attempted diplomatic efforts to restore civilian rule, but the coup leaders have rejected these initiatives.
The crisis in Niger not only affects the country itself but also has implications for the global powers with strategic interests in West and Central Africa. With the region already grappling with a deadly Islamist insurgency, the ousting of governments in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso has increased concerns of growing Russian influence. Western powers, stationed in Niger to combat terrorism, fear that if the junta in Niger follows suit, it may lead to a withdrawal of French troops and an escalation of violence.
The ECOWAS parliament held a meeting to discuss the situation in Niger. Although no decision was made, a committee was established to seek the permission of Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who holds the revolving chairmanship of ECOWAS, to travel to Niger. The concern over Russian influence and the potential for a military intervention prompted various international organizations, including the African Union, the European Union, the United States, and the United Nations, to express their worries and condemn President Bazoum’s detention.
While Ivory Coast has announced its willingness to contribute troops, other countries such as Liberia and Cape Verde have expressed a preference for diplomatic solutions. The size and duration of the potential ECOWAS force remain unclear, with analysts speculating that it could take weeks to assemble. As tensions escalate in Niger, regional army chiefs are expected to convene in the coming days to determine their course of action.
The situation in Niger is closely watched not only for the country’s stability and security but also due to the broader implications for regional alliances and rivalries in West and Central Africa.