As the crisis in Niger deepens, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has firmly rejected a three-year transition plan proposed by the country’s military junta. ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, declared the plan unacceptable, emphasising the regional bloc’s insistence on the swift return of constitutional order
The proposal, made by Niger’s military leader Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani, has been met with skepticism, with many seeing it as a tactic to extend the junta’s stay in power.
“In some other countries under military regime in West Africa, they had about three years and already they’re negotiating with their population to have another 18 months,” explained Musah
Musah criticised the proposed transition period, highlighting that other West African nations under military regimes had initially proposed similar timelines but eventually extended them.
“What legitimacy do they have to already begin with three years? And we know it is not going to end there,” added Musah
The situation has garnered international attention and concern, particularly due to the history of coups in the region. ECOWAS’ efforts are further bolstered by the support of the United States and France, both of which have military bases in Niger. These bases play a critical role in counteracting jihadist groups in the Sahel region, underscoring the strategic significance of the ongoing crisis.
Gen. Tchiani, who orchestrated the coup last month, expressed his reluctance to return the nation to civilian rule too quickly, citing potential exacerbation of the Islamist insurgencies linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.
“They seem ignorant to the fact that it is in large part thanks to the professionalism and valour of the defence and security forces of Niger that Niger has remained a barrier preventing terrorist hordes from destabilising the whole region,” said Gen. Tchiani
While the junta leader presented the transition plan as a means of orderly governance, skepticism remains regarding its feasibility and genuine intentions.
The proposed three-year transition has evoked comparisons to recent coup takeovers in neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali, raising concerns about the normalization of military interventions in West Africa. As the international community grapples with this recurring issue, the role of external influences has also come under scrutiny.
The influence of Russia in the Sahel region has been growing through its mercenary group Wagner, adding another layer of complexity to the evolving dynamics. This growing influence highlights the intricate web of geopolitical interests intertwined with the crisis, as different actors seek to exert their influence in the region.
Gen. Tchiani’s announcement of a transition dialogue within 30 days signifies a potential turning point in the crisis. The junta’s delegation met with representatives from ECOWAS, including Nigeria’s former head of state, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, and Nigeria’s senior Muslim leader, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’adu Abubakar III. This engagement signals a step toward possible resolution, though the junta’s credibility and commitment to a peaceful transition remain subjects of skepticism.
The situation in Niger remains precarious, with ECOWAS considering both diplomatic and military options. The bloc has activated a standby force as a last resort to reinstate democratic order if negotiations fail. The need to prevent Niger from becoming the fourth West African nation to suffer a coup since 2020 has spurred ECOWAS into action.
Despite the ongoing crisis, citizens have taken to the streets to voice their opinions. Demonstrations both for and against the coup have created an atmosphere of uncertainty, further complicating the situation. The decision by Burkina Faso to send aid to its sanctions-affected neighbour exemplifies the dynamics of relationships between nations in the region.