ECOWAS, West African nations’ bloc, has dismissed Niger’s military junta’s offer of holding elections in three years. The move can intensify political imbalance which could provoke a military intervention if the coup continues.
The diplomatic attempts to remove the July 26 coup, the seventh such attempt to overthrow a democratic government in West and Central Africa in three years, has been made many times by the West African bloc and Western nations.
In the light of Niger’s Junta not moving away from its stance, the ECOWAS has taken a rigid position against the junta and readied a military force to be deployed whenever the need arises.
One day before the junta ultimately agreed to meet with an ECOWAS delegation in the capital Niamey, it increased its threat on Friday, indicating a fresh desire to cooperate.
General Abdourahamane Tiani, the head of the junta, stated that the coup leaders were still willing to talk in a televised speech to the nation on Saturday night.
He echoed the extended timetables provided by other coup leaders in the area, but he also stated that the junta would deliberate on a return to democracy within three years.
“Release Bazoum without preconditions, restore constitutional order without further delay,” he said. In answer to a question regarding the suggested election delay, he responded through WhatsApp. He also said that it would depend on the results of “ongoing informal discussions” whether ECOWAS would send another delegation.
Abdel-Fatau Musah, commissioner of ECOWAS, stated to Reuters on Monday that the group’s stance remained unambiguous.
Since a recent wave of coups has weakened democracy in the region and cast doubt on the bloc’s influence as junta leaders have clung to power, the bloc’s credibility has been put in jeopardy. Other military rulers have disagreed with it when it has demanded years of planning before elections.
After Mali’s interim leaders failed to hold the promised elections last year, ECOWAS slapped sanctions on the country. The sanctions were only lifted when a new deadline of 2024 was established.
Burkina Faso has also promised to return to civilian administration in the coming year, and Guinea last week lowered its transition period to 24 months in response to ECOWAS pressure.
Since the coup, Niger has already been subjected to a flurry of foreign sanctions, including those from ECOWAS, adding to the economic pressure on one of the poorest nations in the world.