Burkina Faso and Mali have warned that any military intervention in Niger to restore deposed President Mohamed Bazoum will be considered a “declaration of war against their two countries”.
The warning from Niger’s military-ruled neighbours came a day after West African leaders, supported by their Western partners, threatened to use “force” to reinstate the democratically elected Bazoum and slapped financial sanctions on the putschist.
In a joint statement, the governments of Burkina Faso and Mali warned that “any military intervention against Niger would be tantamount to a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali.”
They said the “disastrous consequences of a military intervention in Niger… could destabilise the entire region.”
They also said they “refuse to apply” the “illegal, illegitimate and inhumane sanctions against the people and authorities of Niger.”
This came as the Russian Federation also advised the Economic Community of West African States against the use of military intervention in the Niger crisis.
In response to an inquiry by The PUNCH, Russia’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Alexei Shebarshin, advised the use of constitutional means in restoring peace to the West African country.
In a short response, the Russian ambassador said, “Russia opposes a military solution to the conflict, Russia has no plans to use its armed forces in Niger. The people of Niger should solve their problems independently in a constitutional manner without any resort to force or threat to use it.”
At an emergency summit on Sunday, ECOWAS demanded that Bazoum be reinstated within a week, failing which it would take “all measures” to restore constitutional order.
“Such measures may include the use of force for this effect,” it said in a statement.
The bloc also slapped financial sanctions on the junta leaders and the country, freezing “all commercial and financial transactions” between member states and Niger, one of the world’s poorest nations, which often ranks last on the UN’s Human Development Index.
Meanwhile, human rights lawyer Femi Falana, also called on the authority of the Economic Community of West African States not to attack Niger Republic as a whole but impose sanctions on the military junta.
He said, “Apart from suspending Niger from ECOWAS, the leaders of the sub-regional body should refrain from attending international conferences with coup plotters as was recently witnessed during the recently concluded Russia-Africa Summit held in St. Petersburg, Russia.”
Falana made the calls in a paper titled “Unconstitutional Change of Governments: the Role of Bar Associations”, delivered today at a 2-day conference of the West African Bar Association in Accra, Ghana.