In a dynamic move during the 64th ECOWAS summit in Abuja, Nigeria, the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) designated President Faure Gnassingbé as the mediator to facilitate discussions with the new authorities in Niger. The primary goal is to find solutions to the situation arising from the coup d'état on July 26.
To bolster Togo's Head of State in this mediation effort, the presidents of Benin and Sierra Leone have also been called upon. ECOWAS envisions achieving a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Niger through this diplomatic initiative.
Not too long ago, the West African organization had hinted at potential military intervention in Niamey if the junta failed to return power to President Mohamed Bazoum. Countries like Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, and Nigeria were inclined towards military intervention.
However, Togo and its president expressed reservations, cautioning that such a sub-regional intervention could escalate tensions in an area already grappling with terrorist attacks. For Togo, the only viable option to address the Nigerien crisis is through negotiation with the military in power.
This diplomatic approach had been successfully employed with Mali. Togo's diplomacy secured the release of Ivorian soldiers detained in Bamako at the beginning of 2023 through dialogue and negotiation.
While condemning coups as unjustifiable, Togo believes that resorting to war to address the Nigerien problem might not be a prudent decision. The country emphasizes the unpredictability and prolonged nature of wars.
In Togo, conflict resolution through dialogue and negotiations is a longstanding tradition and diplomatic philosophy. This tradition has persisted since Faure Gnassingbé assumed power.
Efficient and discreet, the leader of Lomé 2 has once again managed to rally his counterparts in the sub-region to support his stance on the Nigerien issue. Although some remain hesitant, the looming threat of force appears to be diminishing.
Faure Gnassingbé's consistent position is to maintain dialogue with the military leaders in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. As the saying goes in Africa, 'le linge sale se lave en famille' (family matters are dealt with within the family).
Since the events of July, the people of Niger have borne a heavy toll with sanctions imposed on their country. Urgency dictates that negotiations accelerate to reach a solution acceptable to all, in the interest of the Nigerien population suffering from a crisis for which they are not responsible.
A successful resolution will undoubtedly strengthen the unity of the ECOWAS peoples.