Nigeria could send thousands of troops to invade neighbor – media
Nigeria is willing to contribute more than half of the forces needed to restore constitutional order in neighboring Niger if needed, French radio broadcaster RFI reported on Tuesday, citing a government official.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) gave Niger’s coup-imposed government a seven-day deadline to release detained President Mohamed Bazoum and restore the country’s dissolved institutions following the July 26 coup. It threatened to intervene militarily if Bazoum was not reinstated. However, the deadline passed with no military action taken.
The coup that removed Bazoum, which was staged by the presidential guard, prompted widespread condemnation and sanctions against Niamey from international partners and regional powers, including ECOWAS.
On Friday, West African defense chiefs finalized a plan for a possible military intervention in Niger, after a diplomatic delegation sent to Niamey for talks returned without meeting General Abdourahamane Tchiani, the head of the transitional government.
ECOWAS officials stated last week that launching a military operation against Niger would be a last resort as they seek a comprehensive de-escalation strategy.
If the regional alliance opts for military action in Niger, a force of 25,000 troops would be committed, with Nigeria providing the largest number, RFI reported, citing the bloc’s intervention plan.
Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who has pledged zero tolerance for coups in the West African region, requested Senate approval for a troop deployment to Niger. However, lawmakers declined to endorse the mission.
While the legislators condemned the coup, they urged Tinubu, who also chairs the ECOWAS authority of heads of state and government, to pursue diplomatic options.
Apart from Nigeria, three other countries – Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, and Benin – have volunteered to send troops to Niamey.
Abdel-Fatau Musah, the ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs, peace, and security, stated on Friday that all elements of any future intervention had been finalized, but the bloc will not disclose the timing or location of any possible operation.
Meanwhile, the new leadership in Niger has warned both the West and ECOWAS that any military intervention would be met with deadly force. Military government leaders in Burkina Faso and Mali have expressed solidarity with their counterparts in Niamey and declared that such an action in Niger would be interpreted as a declaration of war against their respective nations.
According to a survey by The Economist, 78% of Nigeriens polled support the takeover, while 73% want the coup leaders to retain power “for an extended period” or “until new elections are held.”