The President of Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara, has said that the declaration of the Economic Community of West African States to deploy a standby force against Niger Republic, is not a call from Nigeria but ECOWAS.
Ouattara made this submission while addressing newsmen after the ECOWAS Extraordinary Meeting in Abuja on Thursday.
He said, “As you are aware that ECOWAS has taken many decisions in the past legal and factual about coup d’etat and the community has always condemned coup d’etat.
“The coup d’etat has affected many countries in the sub-region ECOWAS in the past in Liberia, Sierra Leone, recently in Gambia, in Guinea Bissau and today we have a similar situation in Niger. I would like to say that ECOWAS cannot accept this. This is not a matter of Nigeria against Niger, not at all.
“The decision that we have made today and I hope it won’t be implemented immediately is a decision of ECOWAS. All the Head of States think that we’ve tried to dialogue [with the military junta] We’ve sent delegation, high personalities like former president Abdusalami Abubakar, the sultan of Sokoto, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and many other persona;ities in this important country to talk to the people of Niger.
“However, they are keeping president Bazoum as a hostage. I personally consider this a terrorist act and we cannot let this continue, we have to act.
“The position of Cote D’ivoire which has been endorsed by all heads of states is that we have been able to tell this coupist that their place is in the barracks, they should go to fight a terrorist, and not try to kidnap a democratically elected president.
“So we believe that this is for the credibility of ECOWAS, all of us are concerned and involved in this decision.”
Recall that, ECOWAS after its second extraordinary meeting in Abuja on Thursday led by its Chairman Authority of Heads of States and Government, Bola Tinubu, who is also the President of Nigeria, ordered its standby force to restore constitutional order in NIger Republic.
The President of ECOWAS, Omar Alieu Touray, made the declaration while reading the resolution of ECOWAS on the Niger coup.
It also called on the African Union, United Nations, partner countries and institutions to support the resolution taken by the sub-regional body.
ECOWAS said all efforts made to dialogue with Niger Republic military junta have been defiantly rejected by coup leaders as they condemn continuous detention of President Mohamed Bazoum and his family members.
The resolution partly read, “Direct the committee of the Chief of Defence Staff to activate the ECOWAS stand-by force with all its elements immediately.
“Order the deployment of the ECOWAS stand-by force to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.
“Underscore its continued commitment to the restoration of constitutional order through peaceful means.”
The details of any eventual military deployment by ECOWAS states and its impact on Niger were not immediately clear.
Tinubu was quoted saying, “All is not lost yet” for a “peaceful solution, as a roadmap to restore democracy and stability.
“No option is taken off the table, including the use of force as a last resort.
“If we don’t do it, no one else will do it for us.”
Before the closed-door talks, Tinubu had insisted that “we prioritise diplomatic negotiations and dialogue as the bedrock of our approach.”