Niger's military government has asked West Africa's regional court based in Abuja, Nigeria, to order the lifting of sanctions imposed on the state following its coup in July, which ousted elected president Mohamed Bazoum.
Following the toppling of Bazoum's government, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), alongside the US, has applied sanctions on the country. Over 70% of the country's electricity, supplied by Nigeria, has been cut off while assets in foreign banks and hundreds of millions of dollars in aid have been frozen.
Given Niger's status as one of the poorest countries in the world, the application of economic sanctions upon the country following its recent military coup is questionable, given the aim to restore law and order within the state. While this year's events in Niger must undoubtedly come with consequences, the current punishment is affecting the daily lives of its people and comes with the risk of manufacturing a humanitarian crisis.
While seen for a period of time as a bastion of democratic unity in West Africa, ECOWAS has seen its power undermined in recent years by a plethora of military coups. Now is the time for ECOWAS to show that it will not tolerate any further state violations in the region. Unless the organization sticks to its guns, a dangerous precedent will be set in West Africa that may lead to the destruction of democracy and even ECOWAS itself.