The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference has released a statement expressing deep concern over the military intervention that led to the overthrow of the democratically elected government in the Republic of Niger on July 26th, 2023.
The statement signed by President of the Conference, Most Rev. Mathew Gyamfi emphasizes the need for diplomatic solutions rather than military action to restore constitutional order in the West African nation.
The Conference highlights the unsettling pattern of coups d’état that have plagued the West African Sub-region over the past three years, with Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and now Niger all experiencing political upheaval. The current crisis in Niger has caused widespread panic and fear, especially for vulnerable groups, and there is a growing possibility of further chaos if not addressed promptly and effectively.
The Conference vehemently opposes the idea of an ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) military intervention in Niger, believing that such an approach could worsen the situation. The bishops reference the teachings of Jesus Christ in their statement, advocating for a peaceful resolution in line with the principles of nonviolence and restraint.
“It is the position of the Conference that the idea of an ECOWAS military intervention for the restoration of constitutional regime in Niger should not even be contemplated,” the statement said.
In lieu of military action, the Conference urges ECOWAS and its leaders to prioritize diplomacy and engage in meaningful dialogues with the coup leaders to develop a concrete roadmap for the restoration of constitutional governance. The bishops express confidence that a diplomatic approach will pave the way for sustainable solutions that benefit all parties involved.
The Conference’s stance aligns with the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA), a collective of Catholic Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops in the region. The collective calls for restraint among ECOWAS leaders and urges them to explore peaceful avenues to address the crisis in Niger.
The statement also calls upon the Government of Ghana and other African leaders to consider inclusive and human-centered governance models that promote opportunities for all citizens. The Conference’s President, Most Rev. Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi, who is also the Catholic Bishop of Sunyani, emphasizes the importance of finding resolutions that prioritize the interests of Niger, Africa, and the world at large.
As the crisis continues to unfold in Niger, the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference offers its prayers and guidance, invoking the Prince of Peace to guide all involved parties toward a peaceful and constructive resolution. The statement serves as a reminder of the power of faith and diplomacy in navigating complex political situations on the African continent.