By: Kebba AF Touray
The Economic Community of West African States, Parliament (ECOWAS) has set up a mediation committee to interface with the Military Junta in Niger Republic led by General, AbdourahmaneTchiani, who forcefully took over power as well as detained the country’s democratically elected President, Mohammed Bazoum.
The Committee was set up at the end of the 2023 First Virtual Extraordinary Session by the ECOWAS Parliament, when most of the regional lawmakers could not agree with the suggestion by the Speaker, Sidie Mohamed Tunis for the adoption of the recent position of ECOWAS to activate its military component to reinstall the toppled President.
After over five hours of deliberations without finding common ground over the course of action, with the majority of them strongly advised on diplomacy instead of military intervention, the lawmaker from Liberia, Hon. Edwin Melvin Snowe, advised that the committee be constituted and be led by the Speaker.
The Speaker, however, declined the leadership of the Committee but directed the 1st Deputy Speaker of the Parliament who was Nigeria’s Deputy Speaker, Hon. Idris Wase to lead the mission.
The Idris Wase-led committee is expected to hold a consultation with the Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Nigeria to harmonize their position before departing for Niamey, Niger Republic to meet with the leader of the coup and his team.
Members of the team tasked to broker a deal with the Niger Junta are the 3rd Deputy Speaker, Hon. MemounatouIbrahima from Togo; Hon. Edwin Melvin Snowe from Liberia, Hon. FoutoumattaNjai from The Gambia and Senator Ali Ndume from Nigeria.
Others are ECOWAS Parliamentarians from Senegal, Ghana, Cape Verde, Benin Republic, and Guinea Bissau.
The Speaker also mandated the committee to discuss with the Chairperson of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Governments and fashion out modalities of its mediation and dialogue with respect to the Niger Republic issue, including those other countries in the sub-region under military rule and present them to the regional legislature within the next two days.
Giving an “update on the political situation in the Republic of Niger” earlier, the Honourable Speaker noted that the aftermath of a possible military intervention carries a high risk of instability, democratic backsliding, and severe socio-economic consequences due to sanctions.
He expressed the need to take into consideration security challenges that may arise because of instability in Niger and other countries.
He said, “Niger’s fall to military rule, coupled with the show of solidarity from Mali, Burkina Faso, and armed groupings, could render the ECOWAS region susceptible to danger from armed militia and terrorist groups operating in the Sahel, Boko Haram insurgency, as well as militancy and banditry.”
Earlier, some members of the regional parliament called on the Nigerian Government to restore the electric power that it disconnects to Niger as well as open its borders for the free movement of goods and persons as enshrined in the ECOWAS protocol.