Ghana’s Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul has rallied military heads in the West African sub-region to ready their forces to invade Niger to restore democratic rule.
Warning that the days when coups enjoyed popular support in the sub-region are over, he said he expects a two-day meeting of ECOWAS Defence Chiefs in Accra to put their “rich experiences together to be able to activate the ECOWAS standby force” to enable them “respond adequately and swiftly” to the task of returning deposed president Mohamed Bazoum and his government to power.
That responsibility, according to Nitiwul, has been placed on the soldiers by their heads of state, which requires them to remain true to their sworn oaths to defend their people even at the peril of their lives.
“You did it in Liberia. You did it in Sierra Leone. You did it in the Gambia. You did it in the Guinea-Bissau. Of course, to some extent, the world did it in Cote D’Ivoire. And I believe that after Niger, the world will see that West Africa is back to normal, and our people will be able to enjoy the life that they deserve,” he said while addressing the meeting.
Mr Nitiwul implored all heads of the military in West Africa to remain devoted to their respective heads of state as well as ECOWAS leaders in order to effectively curb the recent coups in the sub-region.
“I urge you to continue to be loyal to your heads of state. I urge you to continue to be loyal to the ECOWAS directives and to this effect that the days that coup d’etat enjoys the support of our people are over.
The Defence Minister further admitted that the military is entitled to some rights, however, at the end of the day, they are mandated to safeguard the citizens of their respective countries.
“You have the right as men in uniforms to ask your governments for what you will need to be able to defend your nations. You have the right to ask your governments to give you the tools to defend the territorial integrity of your nations to ensure that your nations remain peaceful. You have the right to ensure that your people choose their leaders in a free and fair manner.”
Although the Defence Minister acknowledged that disagreements are bound to occur in democratic entities, he maintained that resorting to coups was not the way to address dissatisfaction with an administration.
Mr Nitiwul noted that resorting to coups poses a danger to both citizens and the military themselves.
He also warned that neither ECOWAS nor the international community will condone it when soldiers or some citizens decide to “take hostage the people that your constitution give power to.”
“I am very optimistic that between today and tomorrow, all of you will put your rich experiences together to be able to activate the ECOWAS standby force to enable you to respond adequately and swiftly to the demands placed on you by our heads of state.”
“I wish you the best of luck in your two-day deliberations. It will not be easy, nobody wants to go via conflict, in fact nobody wants, no soldier, no CDS, no president, would want to see his soldier die under him. When soldiers swear to defend their countries with their lives, they take that oath seriously…”
The ECOWAS defence chiefs are in Ghana for two days (August 17-18) for a meeting to discuss the deployment of a standby force in Niger to restore constitutional rule.
This comes after Heads of States of the sub-regional bloc reiterated its firm decision to ensure democratic order in Niger by any means possible, including military action.
Out of the 15 ECOWAS countries, 3 countries—Cape Verde, Mali, and Burkina Faso— failed to join the meeting which took place in Burma Camp, Accra.
Mali and Burkina Faso opted out because of their declaration of solidarity with Niger.
Whereas Cape Verde opted out of the activation of a standby force because they stated that they do not believe in a military solution to the challenges confronting the West African region.
For the other 11 West African countries, the respective chiefs of defence staff were in attendance at the meeting.
Per reports, by the close of tomorrow, the final option for the ECOWAS will be made known, and it will certainly include the deployment of the standby force which is being activated at the meeting.