Coup: Niger Reveals When To Hand Over To Civilian Government
The leader of the Niger junta, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, has said the army will hand over power to the civilian government within the next three years.
In a show of solidarity with the junta, Burkina Faso and Mali have deployed warplanes to Niger against possible military intervention by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) after the defence chiefs of the regional bloc had revealed that they had reached an agreement on a “D-Day” for a military intervention to restore the civil rule in that country.
This is as the new Prime Minister of Niger Republic, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, has said the coup plotters who overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum during a July 26 coup will not harm the ousted president.
Also, a delegation from ECOWAS led by former Nigeria Head of State, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) and the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, on Saturday, arrived in Niamey, the capital of Niger Republic, where they met with the ousted president and the coup leaders in a last-ditch diplomatic effort to restore constitutional order in the country.
ECOWAS had given the Niger junta a week ultimatum to reinstate President Bazoum or face possible sanctions, including possible military action.
But the coupists had called the bluff of ECOWAS and vowed to resist foreign intervention.
Subsequently, ECOWAS Defence Chiefs were ordered to activate the region’s force for action to restore civil rule in Niger.
Speaking in a televised broadcast Saturday night, General Tchiani said the coup leaders would hand over to a civilian government within three years, adding that within one month, the junta would set up a committee to study and form a new constitution for the country.
Tchiani spoke after meeting with a delegation of the ECOWAS led by the former Nigerian Head of State, General Abdulsalami.
While stressing that Niger does not want to go to war, Tchiani said the county would defend itself if the need arises.
He, however, added that the door for negotiation was still open.
ECOWAS was yet to react to the speech of the junta leader but Abdulsalami is expected to brief the regional bloc on the outcome of the meeting.
The delegation led by Abdulsalami was also received by Niger’s Prime Minister, Zeine, in Niamey, the country’s capital.
The plane carrying the delegation landed in Niamey at about 1p.m. on Saturday, a day after the bloc’s military chiefs said they were ready to intervene militarily to reinstate Bazoum. Abdulsalami was also accompanied by the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar.
The delegation also met the ousted President Bazoum and the coup leaders in a last-ditch diplomatic effort to restore constitutional order in the country. The meeting was the first-time foreign officials saw the ousted leader in weeks, Onyxnewsng gathered.
“We met Bazoum; we heard from him what was done to him. He told us about the problems he’s facing. We’ll take it to the leaders who sent us here,” said Abdulsalami. “Without doubt, the meeting has opened discussions to lead to a way to resolve this crisis,” he added.
A previous ECOWAS delegation led by Abdulsalami, two weeks ago, tried to meet Bazoum and the coup leader, Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani, but was not successful.
The country’s military junta had also, at the last minute, rejected a tripartite peace mission from ECOWAS, the African Union (AU), and the United Nations (UN).
The United States’ acting Deputy Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, was also denied permission to meet with Tchiani or with Bazoum, who had been held hostage since the power grab. Instead, Nuland spoke for two hours with other army officers.
Meanwhile, Niger’s national television reported that Mali and Burkina Faso have deployed warplanes to the country to counter ECOWAS’ forces.
“Mali and Burkina Faso turned their commitments into concrete action by deploying warplanes to respond to any attack on Niger,” the report said.
The television station said the military leaders from Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger had convened on Friday in Niamey, the Nigerien capital, to decide on “concrete measures” in case ECOWAS chooses to “escalate a war.”
The two countries had warned that any military intervention in Niger would be considered a declaration of war against them.
In a joint statement issued, the governments of the two countries said: “The disastrous consequences of a military intervention in Niger could destabilise the entire region.”
At the end of a two-day meeting of ECOWAS Defence Chiefs in Accra, Ghana’s capital, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, stated that “We are ready to go any time the order is given. The D-day is also decided. We’ve already agreed and fine-tuned what will be required for the intervention.”
However, he said the option for diplomacy was still available.
Most of ECOWAS’ 15-member states are prepared to contribute to the joint force, except Cape Verde and those also under military rule – Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea.
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