Ivory Coast: ECOWAS approves Niger intervention ‘as soon as possible’

West African bloc ECOWAS has approved military intervention in Niger “as soon as possible” to remove its military rulers following last month’s coup, Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara has said.

“The Chiefs of Staff will have other conferences to finalize things but they have the agreement of the Conference of Heads of State for the operation to start as soon as possible,” said Ouattara on Thursday as he returned from an emergency ECOWAS summit.

Earlier Thursday, the leaders of the bloc said they would deploy a “standby force” against the military leaders who seized control of Niger, deposing Mohamed Bazoum as president.

Ouattara said Ivory Coast would provide a battalion of 850 to 1,100 men alongside soldiers from Nigeria and Benin, and that other countries would join them. “We are determined to restore president Bazoum to his functions,” he said.

Before leaving the summit in Abuja, Nigeria, Ouattara had told journalists that ECOWAS “has intervened in the past, in Liberia, in Sierra Leone, in Gambia and Guinea-Bissau” when constitutional order in the countries was threatened.

“Today we have a similar situation in Niger, and I like to say that ECOWAS cannot accept this.”

US back ECOWAS decision

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday voiced support for efforts of the West African bloc ECOWAS on Niger without explicitly backing its call at a summit for military intervention.

“ECOWAS, an organisation that brings together West African countries, is playing a key role in making clear the imperative of a return to constitutional order, and we very much support ECOWAS’ leadership and work on this,” he said.

The United States has in recent days cautioned that military force should be only a last resort and that diplomacy was the best way to resolve the crisis.



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