By Abimbola Ogunnaike
The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, on Wednesday,2 August, 2023 has said that the UK backs the stance taken by ECOWAS on the military coup in Niger Republic, which ousted Mohamed Bazoum last week.
Clerverly stated this while briefing the State House correspondents shortly after an audience with President Bola Tinubu at the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja.
“We touched briefly on the situation in Niger. I made the point that the UK very much welcomes ECOWAS’ and his (Tinubu’s) indeed decisive action, his strong commitment to democracy, and the unambiguous message that violence is not the means to bring political change in any circumstance. And that the commitment to democracy in Nigeria and the region is unwavering,” he said.
Recall that last Sunday, the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government issued a seven-day ultimatum to Niger’s military to release and reinstate President Bazoum as the legitimate Head of State and Government of the landlocked state.
This formed part of the resolutions of an extraordinary meeting of the leaders at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja, to discuss developments in Niger.
Recognising Bazoum as the legitimate President, the bloc rehashed its earlier resolution to explore “all measures necessary” to restore democratic governance in Niger, including “the use of force.”
“Such measures may include the use of force. To this effect, the Chiefs of Defence Staff of ECOWAS are to meet immediately,” President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, said when he read the communique at the end of the Extraordinary Summit.
Aside from the seven-day ultimatum, the ECOWAS Authority at the Summit also imposed immediate sanctions on Niger, including the closure of land and air borders between member-states and Niger.
They also established a no-fly zone on all commercial flights to and from Niger and suspended all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Niger.
Furthermore, assets of the Republic of Niger in the ECOWAS Central Bank, Niger state enterprises, and parastatals in commercial banks will be frozen.
Niger was also suspended from all financial assistance and transactions with financial institutions within the ECOWAS, which called on the West African Monetary Union and other similar regional bodies to implement the resolutions immediately.
Citing ECOWAS’ response, Cleverly said, “This very much supports the UK’s position.We wish to see peace and democracy restored in Niger. And we will, of course, continue to liaise with our strong friends in the region, membership of ECOWAS, of course, including Nigeria, as we seek to bring about stability, peace, and democracy to Niger.”