Niger Coup: Ghana Torn Between Backing ECOWAS Plan For Military Intervention And Sound Counsel To Back Out

Niger Coup: Ghana Torn Between Backing ECOWAS Plan For Military Intervention And Sound Counsel To Back Out

President Nana Akufo-Addo seems undecided about deploying Ghanaian troops to support the plan by ECOWAS to break into Niger with a military force to restore democratic power. But while he is in that dilemma, experts reject the move to strike the military junta due to the far-reaching consequences for the country and the sub-region.

It has been a tough couple of weeks for Ghana since July 26, when soldiers from Niger's presidential guard deposed civilian president Mohamed Bazoum.

Ghana is a crucial member of ECOWAS, hence, it cannot refuse to participate in the collective plan for military intervention in Niger. However, experts and opposition lawmakers feel Ghana must not take part in what they say was “a hasty decision.”

Ghana was full of fire during the first meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, that agreed on a standby force that could be deployed to counter the new junta in Niger. A second meeting in Accra, Ghana, to firm up the plan for the ECOWAS-led military intervention has been called off indefinitely.

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Experts are against military intervention in Niger.
Nana Akufo-Addo (L) and Mohamed Toumba, one of the leading figures of the National Council for the Protection of the Fatherland, attends the demonstration of coup supporters. Source: Getty Images.
Source: Getty Images

It seems Ghana has pulled the brakes on its support for the push to deploy troops to Niger. This is because President Nana Akufo-Addo and his defence minister Dominic Nitiwul have been tight-lipped on the country's next move in the wake of cautions and expert opinions against military intervention.

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Also, despite ECOWAS threatening to attack if the junta fails to hand over power by Sunday, August 13, they have remained defiant and have instead charged the detained president with high treason for calling for military intervention.

ECOWAS military commanders said on August 10, 2023, that the military had until August 13, to return power to the democratically elected president.

A military intervention could backfire

Colonel Festus B. Aboagye (Rtd), an Author and Conflict & Security Analyst has been one of the Ghanaian experts kicking against a military intervention.

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The consultant on UN-AU Joint Planning for AU Peace Support Operations believes ECOWAS was too hasty to announce the plan for military intervention.

Col Aboagye (rtd) told that the threat of terrorism that has plagued the West African sub-region could be escalated with a military intervention.

"If ECOWAS hasn't done enough to fight terrorists threatening the region, they must not fight Niger because that could escalate the situation. Ghana must not be part of this potentially catastrophic decision," he said.

He is of the view that with Russia seemingly backing the junta, ECOWAS is not likely to get the critical UN Security Council greenlight for a military intervention in the West African state.

But in the hypothetical scenario that ECOWAS forces receive the UN Security Council's approval, every possible scenario points to potential chaos in the long run.

"National Council for the Protection of the Fatherland, which orchestrated the coup in Niger, could prove to be resilient and resistant to the intervention. They may refuse to relinquish power and engage in negotiations with ECOWAS. The situation could become tense as ECOWAS forces face significant challenges in dislodging the CNSP from power," he told

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He said the ECOWAS military intervention in Niger could face a catastrophic failure if days after deployment, the CNSP manages to strengthen their hold on political power and hold President Mohamed Bazoum as their trump card.

"Niger could at that stage decide to terminate cooperation with the intergovernmental G-5 Sahel body and joint force. Niger also withdraws from the MNJTF dating back to 1994/98, as a collective force combating jihadist terrorism, as well as the Accra Initiative, to promote and enhance security cooperation focusing on localised cross-border dynamics in response to growing insecurity linked to violent extremism - and climate shocks in the region - further jeopardising the fight against jihadi terrorism and insurgencies in the sub-region," he added.

A refugee crisis could break out in the sub-region

An associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London. Folahanmi Aina, has written in Foreign Policy that while Nigeria has understandable security concerns in the wake of the coup next door, using force to dislodge the junta could spark a refugee crisis and regional war.

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"The nefarious activities of jihadist insurgencies across the troubled Sahel region have resulted in the influx of 300,000 refugees from Mali to Niger. That number is expected to increase significantly, with most likely to flee to Nigeria and other neighbouring countries in the event of a full-scale armed conflict," writes Aina.
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Niger junta must promise to relinquish power as soon as possible

It is hard to find an argument that supports the use of an ECOWAS force to oust the Nigerien junta, but the few that are available point to the likelihood of the military leaders imposing themselves indefinitely.

Col Aboagye (rtd) said the best way to deal with that uncertainty is to use a healthy blend of diplomacy, sanctions and suspensions to get the junta to commit to a timeline for the return of civilian rule.

"ECOWAS must quickly get the junta to commit to a timeline to hand over power to a civilian government. That roadmap should be their biggest priority now, not a military intervention that could create instability in the whole region," he told

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Like many experts have said war is expensive and the remaining 11 ECOWAS states that will contribute troops to fight the Niger are reeling under economic hardship.

Ghana is currently facing severe economic challenges and voting scarce resources and manpower to fight a war that could become dirty is probably not the best.

Pressure mounts on Akufo-Addo over Niger

Meanwhile, has reported that President Nana Akufo-Addo and his appointees in charge of security have come under pressure to make a bold statement opposing the plan for military intervention.

Ghana made initial commitments to support a possible military intervention in the West African country by ECOWAS.

However, a meeting in Accra that was scheduled for Saturday, August 12, 2023, to firm up ECOWAS' plan of action against the Niger junta did not happen. It has since been postponed indefinitely.

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