Amid escalating tensions regarding possible military intervention to restore democracy in Niger, the military leadership of Niger has taken the step of recalling their ambassador from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in response to remarks made by Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara.
Neighboring West African nations, in a bid to potentially intervene militarily, received endorsement from the international community to help reinstate democracy in Niger. However, the military rulers of Niger criticized Ouattara’s enthusiastic support for this “illegal and senseless aggression” against their country.
After attending an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) summit in Abuja, Ouattara revealed that the regional heads of state had endorsed a military operation to begin promptly. He indicated that Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Benin were prepared to contribute troops, with Ivory Coast committing a battalion of 850 to 1,100 soldiers.
Ouattara’s statement also conveyed that the decision for military intervention depended on the coup leaders’ actions, suggesting that if they relinquished power, an intervention might be averted, and President Mohamed Bazoum could be reinstated.
Labeling this move as hastiness, Niger’s coup leaders argued that it reflected manipulation by external forces, though these forces remained unnamed in the statement. The Nigerien leadership expressed their strong dissent from Ouattara’s comments, which, according to them, diverged from ECOWAS’s collective stance. In response to these developments, the Nigerien government decided to recall their ambassador from Abidjan for consultation.
While ECOWAS leaders reaffirmed their preference for a diplomatic approach in reinstating President Bazoum, they also approved the deployment of a standby military force. Specifics about the nature and scope of any potential West African military intervention were not disclosed. The situation continues to evolve as regional actors navigate the delicate balance between diplomatic resolutions and more forceful measures to address the political crisis in Niger.