Niger crisis: ECOWAS is not anywhere near deploying military force – Rtd Col. Aboagye

Security analyst Rtd Colonel Festus Aboagye has said that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) may take a while to deploy a military force to Niger in its attempt to restore constitutional rule.

Speaking on PM Express, he explained that a standby force, which the regional bloc has plans on assembling, relies on contributions from member states adding that some countries do not have enough troops or assets to provide.

“From an informed position, I don’t think ECOWAS is anywhere near deploying to Niger. For technical reasons…It (member states) used to be 15 and some with significant contributions in air assets, ground assets, combat support, artillery and so on. Now four of them are now out of the equation so that burden has to be redistributed among the 11,” he said.

Col Aboagye noted that however, “among the remaining 11 states, there are small countries like The Gambia. Some years ago the Gambian army was about a company strong (120). Let’s say they have about a battalion (1000). Then we have Benin and Togo. Yes, they have armed forces, but these are very small armed forces.”

He believes that the operation in Niger will require well-trained troops with experience adding that with the exception of Nigeria, the Niger army has been fighting insurgents since 2012.

“So they have got that experience, that exposure, more than the rest of us. I have read that the Niger armed forces is about 20,000 and the senate decided before (President) Bazoum was overthrown to increase that size to about 30,000,” Col Aboagye noted.

He stated that as such ECOWAS will need about three times the number of forces and equipment Niger has to pull off a successful military intervention.

“There are very serious inherent risks in this intervention,” he added.

This comes after the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had agreed to assemble a “standby” military force as part of interventions aimed at restoring Niger to constitutional rule following a coup on July 6.

They however did not give details on the side of the military force at the meeting held on Thursday.

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu said that despite the approval to assemble a military intervention, the use of force would be a “last resort”.

Meanwhile, military chiefs from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will meet in Ghana on Thursday and Friday to discuss their next line of action.

The meeting was originally scheduled for Saturday in Accra but was postponed to this week as ECOWAS continues efforts to negotiate with the Abdourahmane Tchiani-led military government in Niamey.

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