In response to the recent coup in Niger and the looming threat of military intervention by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Africa Center of Global Engagement and Diplomacy (AFRO-GLOBAL) has issued a press release emphasizing the need for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis.
AFRO-GLOBAL expressed concern over the potential pitfalls of a military intervention and underscored the importance of addressing the complex issues at play through dialogue and diplomacy. Highlighting the potential challenges of a military approach, AFRO-GLOBAL raised several key questions regarding foreign involvement and the potential consequences:
The presence of foreign troops:
Reports indicate the presence of French and US troops in Niger.
AFRO-GLOBAL questioned the role of these foreign troops in an ECOWAS-led intervention and how their participation might impact the perceived independence of ECOWAS.
The ousted president’s minority foreign Arab ethnicity versus the ‘native’ ethnicity of the coup makers introduced a dimension of ethnic tension.
AFRO-GLOBAL questioned the potential involvement of armed civilians from the coup makers’ ethnic background and the long-term implications for societal reconciliation.
Proxy involvement of superpowers
AFRO-GLOBAL highlighted reports of the coup makers seeking assistance from a Russian mercenary group. The center raised concerns about the possibility of the crisis turning into a proxy conflict involving global superpowers.
Given the already struggling economies of the region, AFRO-GLOBAL raised the question of who would bear the financial burden of an intervention – the regional economies or a foreign power.
AFRO-GLOBAL also urged caution against the interference of foreign powers and called for regional leaders to prioritize diplomatic efforts. The center expressed reservations about France’s intentions and questioned the neutrality of ECOWAS in light of French officials’ comments on the situation.
AFRO-GLOBAL further outlined some measures for consideration in addressing the crisis:
Mediation by Algeria
AFRO-GLOBAL suggested engaging Algeria, which has shown a constructive and non-confrontational role, to mediate the crisis.
Diplomatic engagement with external powers
AFRO-GLOBAL proposed engaging external powers like Russia and China to prevent their intervention on the side of the coup makers and to enhance the effectiveness of sanctions.
Isolation of foreign powers
The press release recommended isolating foreign powers, particularly France, from any solution adopted to resolve the crisis.
AFRO-GLOBAL advocated for using sanctions imposed by ECOWAS to negotiate a timetable for the return to civilian rule, with each achieved target resulting in the lifting of specific sanctions.
Replacement of foreign troops
AFRO-GLOBAL called for finding military resources to replace foreign troops in Niger as part of efforts to ensure peace and stability.
Looking ahead, AFRO-GLOBAL outlined broader measures for safeguarding democracy in the region, including improving election quality, enforcing presidential term limits, and imposing sanctions on incumbents who manipulate elections or undermine democratic institutions.