President Bola Ahmed Tinubu Tinubu has assured that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will give top priority to diplomacy and dialogue in ending the crisis in the Republic of Niger.
Tinubu said this as the Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, at the Extraordinary Summit in Abuja, on Thursday.
ECOWAS leaders convened in Nigeria’s capital to discuss the next line of action after the ultimatum issued elapsed on Sunday, without Niger’s military leaders yielding to the deadline.
The West African regional bloc had asked General Abduorahamane Tchiani to release ousted President Mohamed Bazoum and restore democratic order in the country.
Rather than restoring a democratic government, the coupists, in contrast, cut ties with Nigeria, shut its airspace, and appointed an economist Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, as the transitional prime minister.
Hours before the ECOWAS meeting, it also formed a new cabinet and named 21 ministers to serve in the government to be led by Zeine.
In his welcome address to review Niger’s crisis, Tinubu said the bloc will examine bridges and challenges that might have served as obstacles in bringing Niger’s impasse to an end.
Read the full speech below:
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.
1. Let me commence by welcoming you all to the Second (2nd) Extraordinary Summit on the Socio-Political Situation in the Republic of Niger, within the space of ten days. Your presence here, despite the short notice, demonstrates the unwavering dedication of our esteemed community to finding a lasting solution to the political situation in the Republic of Niger.
2. Today, we gather with a profound sense of urgency and firm determination, building upon the commitments made during our first Extraordinary Summit, on the grave political crisis befalling our sister nation. During that initial meeting, we voiced our solidarity with the people of Niger and their democratically elected President, H.E Mohamed Bazoum, by condemning the military take over and the unjust detention of their democratically elected President.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
3. As you may recall, we called on the junta to rescind its decision of toppling a legitimate government. We proceeded to impose sanctions with the hope that this resolute measure would serve as a catalyst for the restoration of the constitutional order in Niger. Regrettably, the seven-day ultimatum we issued during the first Summit has not yielded the desired outcome. We have also made diligent efforts through the deployment of various ECOWAS mediation teams, to engage the military junta for a peaceful resolution of the political situation. One of the facilitators, former Head of State of Nigeria, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, would update us on the outcome of his mission to Niamey.
4. Similarly, as part of a coherent diplomatic initiatives, Special Envoys were dispatched to non-ECOWAS nations, particularly Libya and Algeria. During these engagements, the Envoy designated for Libya had the privilege of an audience with the President of Libya. This discourse resulted in an unequivocal expression of support for the resolutions adopted by ECOWAS aimed at restoring constitutional governance in Niger. In Algeria, the Envoy was received by the Minister of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the President of the country. These initiatives are aimed at presenting a cohesive and united stance regarding the ongoing circumstances in Niger, thus showing a collaborative and concerted approach among African nations.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
5. Following the resolution of our previous Extraordinary Summit to initiate a meeting of the ECOWAS Chiefs of Defense Staff, the meeting of the Chiefs of Staff Committee was duly held from 2nd to 4thAugust, 2023. The outcome of that meeting, as well as a Memorandum by the President of the ECOWAS Commission on current socio-political developments in Niger, will be presented during this Summit. These will offer critical insights that will inform our collective decision-making process at this meeting.
6. Today’s Summit provides a significant opportunity to meticulously review and assess the progress made since our last gathering. It is essential to evaluate the effectiveness of our interventions and identify any gaps or challenges that may have hindered progress. Only through this comprehensive assessment can we collectively chart a sustainable path towards lasting peace, stability, and prosperity in Niger.
Moreso, in reaffirming our relentless commitment to democracy, human rights, and the well-being of the people of Niger, it is crucial that we prioritize diplomatic negotiations and dialogue as the bedrock of our approach. We must engage all parties involved, including the coup leaders, in earnest discussions to convince them to relinquish power and reinstate President Bazoum. It is our duty to exhaust all avenues of engagement to ensure a swift return to constitutional governance in Niger.
7. More specifically, as leaders of our respective nations, we must recognize that the political crisis in Niger not only poses a threat to the stability of the nation but also has far-reaching implications for the entire West African region. By remaining steadfast in our adherence to the principles of democracy, good governance, and the rule of law, we can restore peace, stability, and prosperity in the Republic of Niger, thereby fostering an environment conducive to growth and development for all.
Esteemed Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
8. I am confident that this 2nd ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit on the Socio-Political Situation in the Republic of Niger will be a defining moment in our journey towards a stronger, more resilient, and integrated West Africa. Let us seize this opportunity to make a lasting impact on the lives of our fellow Africans as we strive to build a future defined by peace, progress, and prosperity.
9. In conclusion, I extend my gratitude to each of you for your attention to this critical issue. I trust that our deliberations will be productive and fruitful, leading us to find an amicable solution to the political crisis in Niger. As we continue to work together in solidarity and harmony, we can ensure a prosperous future for the entire West African region.
10. With these remarks, I hereby declare this Extraordinary Summit open.
Thank you all, for your attention.