ECOWAS defence chiefs say ‘D-Day’ set for possible Niger invasion

Military personnel gesture as the ECOWAS anthem is played during a meeting of the Committee of Chiefs of Defense staff on the deployment of the ECOWAS standby force in the Republic of Niger, in Accra, Ghana. August 17, 2023. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

West Africa’s main regional bloc on Friday said it had agreed an undisclosed “D-Day” for a possible military intervention to restore democracy in Niger if diplomatic efforts fail, stressing that it would not hold endless dialogue with the defiant junta.

The comments came at the end of a two-day meeting of West African army chiefs in Ghana’s capital Accra, where they have been hashing out the logistics and strategy for a possible use of force in Niger. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has said such action would be a last resort.

“We are ready to go anytime the order is given,” ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Abdel-Fatau Musah said during the closing ceremony. “The D-Day is also decided, which we are not going to disclose.”

He said a peaceful resolution remained the bloc’s preferred option.

“As we speak we are still readying (a) mediation mission into the country, so we have not shut any door… (but) we are not going to engage in endless dialogue.”

There was no immediate response from the junta.

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Military officers deposed Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26 and have defied calls from the United Nations, ECOWAS and others to reinstate him, prompting the bloc to order a standby force to be assembled.