Regional leaders threaten to intervene in Niger

The 15-member West African bloc ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) has warned it could use force in Niger if ousted President Bazoum isn’t reinstated within a week.

But the coup-installed leaders of nearby Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso (all ECOWAS members) have rejected the bloc’s demand, with the latter two equating any military intervention to a “declaration of war” against them.

Intrigue’s take: Regional responses have merit: ECOWAS has led them before, and it voted last year to form a peacekeeping force. But an intervention in Niger, opposed by Niger and three other ECOWAS members, seems a heavy lift.

So we may be looking at a lose-lose here: if ECOWAS intervenes, things could get messy. But if the bloc stays on the side-lines (again), its credibility will take another hit.

Also worth noting:

  • The largest ECOWAS member, Nigeria, shares a restive 1,600km border region with Niger. Nigeria’s military chief has said his troops will respond immediately if ECOWAS gives the order to deploy.
  • French President Macron has warned that France will respond “immediately” to any attack on French interests, after the French embassy was attacked on Sunday (30 July).
  • Niger’s coup leaders have reportedly suspended the export of uranium and gold to France.