ECOWAS leaders are currently in a closed door session in a second summit to address the Niger political crisis, as diplomatic efforts and commitments to democracy intensify to restore stability and prosperity in the region.
ECOWAS chairman and Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, in his opening remarks, says one of the major concerns that has led to a second emergency summit within 10 days is the failure of previous measures, including imposing sanctions and deploying mediation teams, to restore constitutional order in Niger.
The leaders had issued a seven-day ultimatum during the first summit, which unfortunately did not yield the desired outcome.
According go Tinubu, “It is our duty to exhaust all avenues of engagement to ensure a swift return to constitutional governance in Niger.
“More specifically, as leaders of our respective nations, we must recognise that the political crisis in Niger, not only poses a threat to the stability of the nations, but also has far reaching implications for the entire West African region.
“By remaining steadfast in our adherence to the principles of democracy, good governance and the rule of law, we can restore peace, stability and prosperity in the Republic of Niger, thereby fostering an environment conducive for growth and development for all.
“I am confident that the 2nd extraordinary summit on the socio-political situation in Niger will be a defining moment in our journey towards a stronger, more resilient and integrated West Africa,” Tinubu said.
The summit is deliberating on the ultimatum issued to the Nigerien junta, which last month sacked the administration of the democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum.
The ECOWAS leaders attending the Extraordinary Session include Presidents Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone, Umaro Mokhtar Sissoco of Guinea Bissau, Everiste Ndayishimiye of Burundi, President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire and President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani of Mauritinia.
Others are Presidents Nana Akofo-Ado of Ghana, Macky Sall of Senegal, Patrice Talon of Benin Republic and Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo.
The Gambia and Liberia are member-states being represented by their Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
The leaders of the remaining West African nations namely Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad are not likely to be represented at the meeting as they are currently being headed by military juntas.
Meanwhile, in order to avert the escalation of the crisis and stave off the possibility of an armed intervention, several stakeholders within Nigeria and Niger have been making moves to prevail on both the ECOWAS and the military junta in Niger to approach the situation diplomatically and continue with negotiations.
On Thursday morning, however, the Abdourahamane Tchiani-led junta, announced a 21-member cabinet, to be led by Ali Mahaman Liman Zeine, who was appointed as Prime Minister by the military.