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Niger Coup: ECOWAS Military Threat Faces Divisions as Deadline Passes

Following the recent coup d’état in Niger, West African leaders under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had threatened military intervention if the detained president was not released and a democratically elected government restored.

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The deadline for the threat passed without any sign of military action.

ECOWAS’s initial strong response to the coup seems to be now divided, reflecting the different approaches of member-state leaders.

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Credits: DepositPhotos

While some suspect that the hardline stance was influenced by Western allies like the United States and France, others believe it indicates a new strategy under Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu, the new ECOWAS chairman.

Afolabi Adekaiyaoja, a political analyst, suggested that coups are often not isolated events and that neighboring countries may be concerned about potential military actions in their territories.

The region’s militaries exchange intelligence, making democratic administrations wary of similar coups.

The situation has created rifts within the ECOWAS alliance.

Wealthier coastal economies are uniting against landlocked, military-led counterparts in a potential major showdown.

Niger’s neighbors to the west have sided with the military government, while richer coastal states led by Nigeria are concerned about the insecurity spreading from their northern neighbors.

The Sahel region, separating coastal Africa and the Sahara, has become a hotbed of armed group activity due to weak states, economic challenges, growing populations, and harsh climate conditions.

Conflict trackers report a significant rise in violence, with fatalities reaching a peak in recent times.

Coastal countries that previously avoided armed-group violence are now facing attacks near their borders.

The coup in Niger coincides with an increase in violence, similar to what occurred in Mali and Burkina Faso after military governments seized power.

These countries have expelled foreign troops, and the presence of the Russian paramilitary force Wagner Group has raised concerns about human rights abuses.

ECOWAS is facing its most significant challenge in 30 years with the crisis in Niger.

There are divisions within the bloc, and a land invasion could be a messy conflict with regional implications.

Nigeria, as ECOWAS chief, is keen on asserting its regional influence, but its military is already dealing with internal crises.

As tensions rise, the future utility of ECOWAS is being questioned, though others believe the bloc’s effectiveness will be tested but not necessarily ended by this crisis.

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