15 Dec Nigeria: ECOWAS Enforces Suspension on Niger from Regional Bodies Pending Restoration of Constitutional Order
By Ahmad Hadizat Omayoza, Mamos Nigeria
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS/CEDEAO) has taken a significant step by officially suspending the Republic of Niger from all sub-regional bodies until constitutional order is restored in the country. This decision was communicated through a statement released by the regional organization following the resolutions made at the summit of heads of state and government held on December 10, 2023, in Abuja.
Prior to this summit, the Conference of Heads of State and Government considered the situation in Niger as a coup attempt, maintaining Mohamed Bazoum, the President of the Republic of Niger, as the recognized Head of State. Consequently, Niger was not initially suspended from ECOWAS’ decision-making bodies, and members of Bazoum’s government were allowed to represent the country in ECOWAS’ statutory meetings.
However, the summit on December 10, 2023, acknowledged that Mohamed Bazoum’s government had been effectively overthrown by a military coup. Subsequently, ECOWAS officially suspended Niger from all decision-making bodies within the organization until constitutional order is reinstated in the country.
During the summit in Abuja, ECOWAS leaders urged the military junta of Niger, which seized power in a coup on July 26, to release the deposed president Mohamed Bazoum as a condition for lifting the sanctions imposed on the country. The proposal to exchange Bazoum’s release for sanctions relief was rejected by the junta’s leader, Omar Abdourahmane Tchiani, who reiterated that Bazoum would not be released.
Following the summit, ECOWAS presented the proposal to the junta, emphasizing the importance of Bazoum’s release and also requesting a reduction in the duration of the transition period, currently set at three years. Tchiani agreed to the latter request without specifying the extent of the adjustment.
The sub-regional body announced the continuation of sanctions against Niger, underscoring the gravity of the political situation and the regional efforts to restore constitutional order. The developments surrounding the suspension highlight the complexities of diplomatic negotiations and the ongoing challenges faced by nations in the West African region.