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Niger's Crisis Must Be Resolved Peacefully

(FILE) Economic Community of West African State delegates during a meeting in Ghana.

When the deadline passed to restore constitutional order in Niger, ECOWAS ordered the activation and deployment of a regional standby force to restore order.

Niger's Crisis Must Be Resolved Peacefully
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On July 26, a military junta calling itself the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland, launched a coup d’état in Niger and arrested President Mohamed Bazoum. Bazoum and his family have since then been illegally held at the president's official residence in Niamey.

Niger, a seemingly stable democracy in the heart of the Sahel, has suffered its own share of coups and take-overs since 1960, when it gained its independence from France. Indeed, the transfer of power after Mohamed Bazoum’s own electoral victory two years ago was relatively peaceful, with little to indicate the turmoil beneath the surface.

The coup prompted the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS to call for the restoration of constitutional order by August 6. When that deadline passed, ECOWAS ordered the activation and deployment of a regional standby force to restore order in Niger.

“ECOWAS has shown immense leadership throughout this crisis, and the United States has appreciated their work and leadership,” said State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel.

“ECOWAS has been also very clear and very clear publicly that military intervention should be a last resort, something that we agree with. And we continue to be focused on finding a diplomatic solution and are in close contact with ECOWAS and their leadership on this,” he said.

In response to ECOWAS’ troop deployment, the coup leaders announced that they planned to prosecute President Bazoum for high treason and undermining Niger’s internal and external security.

“We are dismayed by the reports that President Bazoum’s unjust detention has gone an even step further, and now that the [National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland] is threatening prosecution,” said Deputy Spokesperson Patel.

“This action is completely unwarranted and unjustified, and candidly, it will not contribute to a peaceful resolution of this crisis. It is a further affront, in our opinion, to democracy and justice and to the respect of the rule of law. And a threat like this underscores the urgency of respecting the constitutional order in Niger,” he said.

“At the end of the day, we are all in alignment that we want a peaceful resolution to this crisis and the preservation of constitutional order in Niger,” said Spokesperson Patel. “We expect to see President Bazoum and his family unharmed, we expect to see them released, and we expect to see an immediate respect for the constitutional order in Niger.”