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Niger Republic Coup, ECOWAS tensions: Senate, Sultan group reject military action, caution Tinubu

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The Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, President of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu, and other regional leaders have been requested by the Senate and Jama'atu Nasril Islam, JNI, led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa'ad Abubakar, to exercise caution when addressing the political quagmire in the Niger Republic following the removal of the democratically elected administration of Mohamed Bazoum.

The Senate yesterday condemned the coup d'etat in Niger but urged ECOWAS and its leaders to use political and diplomatic options to break the political impasse. The Senate had just emerged from a two-hour long closed-door meeting to discuss the letter sent by Tinubu regarding the decisions made by the regional body.

On Friday, Tinubu wrote the Senate to inform it of the coup that had taken place in the neighboring nation and to recommend that the ECOWAS take military action and impose other penalties on the juntas.

As the seven-day deadline set by West African leaders for the military in Niger to reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum drew to a close, the Senate and the JNI made their stances clear. Analysts said both parties have important decisions to make.

The regional group, led by Tinubu, declared last Sunday night that the junta had one week to restore constitutional order or face probable use of force.

Sanctions against the coup leaders have already been put in place, and Nigeria's electricity supply and borders have been closed, preventing commodities from entering and cutting off the landlocked nation's access to ports.

But what might occur after the deadline has passed as the political, diplomatic, and military tensions increase?
Analysts have suggested that the ECOWAS leaders extend the deadline as one alternative.

The heads of state could preserve face by claiming that diplomatic efforts have advanced and they want to give them more time, according to one expert. "This has the risk of being seen as a climbdown," he added.

"The issue at hand is that Ecowas' efforts to mediate have not succeeded. A group that was despatched to Niger on Thursday came back in a short time with what appeared to be little of value.

In the meantime, the junta's rhetoric against the West and ECOWAS got stronger. In addition to announcing the severance of diplomatic connections with the US, France, Togo, Nigeria, and other countries, it also declared the cancellation of military accords with France that had previously allowed the former colonial power to station 1,500 soldiers there.

The Senate recognizes that President Tinubu, via his correspondence, did not request permission from this Senate's parliament to go to war as has been falsely suggested in some quarters, according to the resolutions read by the Senate yesterday after the meeting.

Instead, as stated in the aforementioned communication, "Mr. President has expressed a want to respectfully request the support of the National Assembly in the successful execution of the ECOWAS decisions.

"The Senate urges President Tinubu to continue urging other ECOWAS leaders to boost diplomatic and political options as well as other ways to break the political deadlock in Niger.

"In light of the up to now friendly relationship between Nigerians and Nigeriens, the leadership of the Senate is tasked to continue engaging with the president on how to best address the matter.

The Senate concludes by urging the ECOWAS assembly to rise to the occasion by denouncing this coup and offering suggestions for how to end this deadlock as soon as possible.

Similar to this, the top Muslim organization in Nigeria said in a statement released by its Secretary General, Professor Khalid Aliyu, that the JNI, speaking for the Muslim Ummah as a whole, voiced its serious concern over the coup in Niger.

The group emphasized the importance of sustaining democratic values and the rule of law in order to promote national stability, growth, and steady progress.

The JNI applauds the Nigerian government's actions thus far, especially the start of a dialogue process aimed at ending the crisis in the Niger Republic. Although this approach might not have produced the expected outcomes, it shows Nigeria's dedication to peaceful solutions.

In the Sahel region, which is already plagued by several political and security challenges, discussion is a crucial instrument for preventing more violence and instability, the statement said.

JNI, however, issued a warning against resorting to military force as a way to reestablish democracy.

The intertwined geography of the northern states of Nigeria and the Republic of Niger demands a more cautious and deliberate course of action or strategy. Military action could have unexpected implications that could affect the peace and stability of both countries because some states in Nigeria share borders with Niger.

"JNI, therefore, urges all parties to prioritize greater political and diplomatic conciliation and group efforts to resolve the problem. We firmly think that the best way to create long-term peace and security in the region is via communication, collaboration, and negotiation. The continuation of diplomatic negotiations aimed at a settlement by the international community, particularly the ECOWAS, is equally crucial.

Remember that on July 27, 2023, Niger's military deposed President Bazoum after armed forces had earlier blockaded the presidential palace in the capital city of Niamey.

The defence and security forces decided to "put an end to the regime that you know due to the deteriorating security situation and bad governance," according to a statement read out by Colonel Amadou Abdramane, who was sitting and accompanied by nine other officers dressed in fatigues.

The military closed the nation's borders, put a stop to all government institutions, declared a nationwide curfew, and forbade any outside intervention.

However, these cautions were disregarded, particularly by the ECOWAS leaders who gathered in Abuja, Nigeria, to discuss the nation's political climate.

Following the meeting, the regional leaders gave the military juntas a seven day deadline to free and reinstall Bazoum.

The head of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Alieu Touray, stated, "We will take all necessary measures to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger in the event that the authorities' demands are not met within one week."

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