Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS commissioner

The ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, says the regional body is not ready to engage in endless talks with Niger’s military junta.

Addressing a gathering at the concluding day of a high-level meeting among West African military chiefs at Burma Camp in Accra, Mr Fatau Musah said they expect the dialogue with the Niger junta to be fruitful.

He added that the “objective of the meeting should be targeted at the restoration of constitutional order in the shortest possible time.”

“We are still readying mediation mission into the country [Niger]. We’ve not shut any door at all. The sanctions are also on the table and if they respond favourably to the request, and to the authority of Heads of State for dialogue, we are ready to accept. But all we are saying is that we are not going to engage in endless dialogue,” he stressed.

The junta has sent a message to ECOWAS chiefs agreeing to negotiate.

Speaking exclusively to the head of JoyNews’ Foreign Affairs and Diplomatic desk, Blessed Sogah, Dr Abdul Fatah said ECOWAS is ready to engage with the junta.

“Over the last couple of days, we’ve already received assurances that they are ready to receive our mission so we will take them by their word,’ he said.

He explained that ECOWAS’ mission is to ensure that the right thing is done and constitutional order restored.

“We don’t want to go the military route so we are giving every opportunity for the peaceful option to work,” he added.

According to him, ECOWAS is still calling for the release of the deposed President and members of his family held hostage by the regime in Niger.

He reiterated that all options are on the table.

“If they want to take the peaceful pathway to very early restoration of constitutional order in the country, then we can stand down the military option.”

This, he stated is because the military intervention is not ECOWAS’ preferred option.

He, however, pointed out that the possibility of a military deployment commissioned by ECOWAS into Niger remains firmly on the table.

While affirming that ECOWAS military chiefs are actively exploring a range of strategies on Friday, August 18, Mr Musah emphasised that the intent is not to declare war on Niger.

The discussions, he said, were within the context of considering a comprehensive approach to resolving the crisis, which includes military intervention if peaceful methods fall short.

Abdel-Fatau Musah acknowledged that the ECOWAS mission may undertake renewed talks in Niger in an attempt to seek a peaceful resolution on Saturday, August 19.

However, he urged the public to exercise restraint in overemphasizing the military intervention aspect of the situation.

“Although we are not going to be the ones knocking on the door when they are slamming the doors on us, it is clear that sanctions are also on the table,” Musah stated.

“If all fails, then we have no option but to go to the final option, which is military intervention, and we hope that it is going to be surgical, it is going to be short-lived to ensure that constitutional order is restored.”