Refrain from Military Intervention in Niger, W/African Catholic Bishops Urge ECOWAS
The Reunion of Episcopal Conferences of West Africa (RECOWA) has urged the Authority of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government to refrain from military intervention in Niger.
This plea came in the wake of the military coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of President Mohammed Bazoum.
RECOWA’s entreaty, captured in a 2-page letter, followed ECOWAS authority’s resolve to deploy all means necessary, even force, to restore Niger’s constitutional regime.
“We affirm that any military intervention in Niger at this time would complicate the situation of the people of Niger and the sub-region more than it would provide solutions,” the letter stated.
Signed by the President of RECOWA and Bishop of Agboville, Most Rev. Alexis Touabli Youlo, the letter was addressed to the ECOWAS President, Heads of State, and the transitional authorities in Niger.
Despite a 7-day ultimatum issued to the military regime led by Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, diplomatic measures from international bodies such as the ECOWAS, African Union, European Union, and the United Nations have failed to restore stability in Niger.
The Catholic Bishops called on leaders to prioritize dialogue and reconciliation over military action, citing previous disastrous consequences of such interventions.
“We are deeply concerned by the sub-regional tension linked to the political situation in Niger. Faced with the events currently unfolding in the sub-region, the lives of the people of West Africa are at stake,” read the letter.
Drawing from the tragic events that unfolded following military intervention in Libya in 2011, RECOWA urged the West African leaders to learn from the past.
The consequences, they noted, were disastrous for people’s lives, dignity, and future.
“We cannot remain silent in the face of such situations and must learn lessons to ensure that such events do not happen again, particularly with Niger as a potential epicentre of a similar crisis,” the bishops warned.
They stressed that no interest should take precedence over the preservation of life, human dignity, and the well-being of future generations in West Africa and beyond.
The bishops challenged national, sub-regional, and international organizations to play a positive role in easing tensions and promoting lasting peace.
They called on the African Union and ECOWAS to revisit their respective missions, stressing the importance of these organizations playing an active role in the search for peaceful and lasting solutions.
“We call on the sub-regional leaders to respond decisively to this call for restraint, discernment and responsibility, but work together to build a future of peace and prosperity for the West Africa region and Africa as a whole,” the letter concluded.