When Nigerian President Bola Tinubu took over the rotating leadership of the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, in July 2023, he stated emphatically that the bloc would “not allow coup after coup to take place.” If he felt the need to make such a forceful declaration, it was because in the previous three years, the region had seen five takeovers of power by military juntas, including two each in Mali and Burkina Faso and one in Guinea.
When a sixth coup was launched in Niger not more than a month later, Tinubu’s remarks unsurprisingly informed ECOWAS’ initial reaction: a draconian economic blockade of the country, including sealing its borders and cutting off electricity supplies, and a promise to consider military intervention and the “use of force” if President Mohamed Bazoum were not reinstated to power within a week. That deadline, however, has long since passed, and the bloc has instead decided to use diplomatic avenues to address the crisis in Niger.
Just weeks later, the Economic Community of Central African States, or ECCAS, was confronted with a similar challenge when a group of military officers removed Gabonese President Ali Bongo after a controversial election there. ECCAS relocated its headquarters from Libreville, Gabon’s capital, to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea’s capital, and condemned the action of the leaders.