By Chimezie Godfrey
The military chiefs of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will meet on Thursday and Fiday in Accra, Ghana amid tensions over a possible military intervention in Niger, according to Ghana’s army spokesman.
ECOWAS member states had initially mulled a military intervention against those who carried out Niger’s coup, and the bloc’s heads of state had ordered a military force to be readied to restore constitutional order during a special summit, but they said a peaceful resolution of the conflict should continue to be pursued.
ECOWAS defence ministers and military chiefs already met a week after the coup in Niger and drafted deployment plans after they had issued an ultimatum against the putschists.
Of the 15 ECOWAS members, Nigeria, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Benin and Guinea-Bissau declared their willingness to provide troops in the case of an intervention.
Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea, which were suspended from ECOWAS after their own coups, as is Niger now, want to support the junta in Niger militarily in the event of an intervention.
Niger, a country with around 26 million inhabitants and one of the poorest populations in the world, was until the coup one of the last democratic partners of the United States and Europe in the Sahel region on the southern edge of the Sahara.
The coup has plunged the region into a political crisis.
Former colonial power France and the US have important military bases in the country, which also lies on a key migration route to Europe.
On July 26, the military ousted the president and suspended the constitution.
The putsch leaders have since formed their own transitional government. (dpa/NAN)