US vows to hold Niger junta accountable for Bazoum's safety, backs ECOWAS


Antony Blinken U.S. Secretary of State

The United States said it will hold the Niger junta accountable for the safety of President Mohamed Bazoum, his family and detained cabinet members.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this on Thursday in a statement released by the U.S. State Department.

“The United States joins the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in calling for the restoration of constitutional order in Niger,” Blinken said.

His statement did not explicitly back ECOWAS call at its emergency summit in Abuja for military intervention.

“ECOWAS, an organisation that brings together West African countries, is playing a key role in making clear the imperative of a return to constitutional order, and we very much support ECOWAS’ leadership and work on this,” Blinken said on Thursday.

The United States has in recent days cautioned that military force should only be a last resort and that diplomacy was the best way to resolve the crisis.

On Thursday, ECOWAS ordered the activation of a standby force for possible use against the junta.

An official communiqué read by Dr. Omar Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission, said the leaders directed the Committee of the Chiefs of Defence Staff to activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its elements immediately.

The leaders also issued a stern warning to member states whose actions, whether direct or indirect, impede the peaceful resolution of the Niger crisis.

The communiqué emphasised that such actions would entail consequences within the ECOWAS community.

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Underscoring its continued commitment to restoring constitutional order through peaceful means, the leaders noted that all diplomatic efforts made by ECOWAS in resolving the crisis have been repelled at various intervals by the military rulership of the Republic of Niger.

As the one-week ultimatum for the restoration of constitutional order expired, the ECOWAS Authority made the following decisions:

(A) Reiterates its strong condemnation of the attempted coup d’etat and the continued illegal detention of President Mohammed Bazoum, his family and members of his government.

(B) Further condemns the condition in which President Bazoum is being detained and holds the CMSP fully and solely responsible for the safety, security and physical integrity of President Bazoum, and members of his family and government.

(C) Upholds all measures and principles agreed upon by the Extraordinary Summit held on Niger on 30th of July, 2023.

(D) Underscores the determination of the ECOWAS Authority to keep all options on the table for the peaceful resolution of the crisis.

(E) Enforces all measures, in particular, border closures and strict travel bans as well as assets freezes on all persons or groups of individuals whose actions hinder all peaceful efforts aimed at ensuring the smooth and complete restoration of Niger’s constitutional order.

Furthermore, the West African leaders called on the African Union to endorse their decisions on the Niger crisis while also urging partner countries and institutions, including the United Nations, to support ECOWAS in its effort to ensure a quick restoration of constitutional order in Niger Republic.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission was further tasked with overseeing the implementation of sanctions stemming from the initial Extraordinary meeting in Abuja.

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