Niger coup leaders willing to resolve standoff with ECOWAS
14 August, 2023 | Anupam Shrivastava
Niger's coup leaders had previously rebuffed diplomatic overtures from ECOWAS, the US, and other parties, raising concerns about potential escalation of conflict in the Sahel region of Africa.
Coup leaders in Niger have indicated a willingness to pursue a diplomatic resolution with West Africa’s regional bloc as a standoff ensues, reported by Al Jazeera. A delegation of senior Nigerian Islamic scholars has engaged in discussions with military leaders in Niamey in an attempt to defuse tensions. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is exploring various options, including potential military intervention, to reinstate civilian rule following the coup that ousted Niger President Mohamed Bazoum.
The visit of the Islamic scholars comes following ECOWAS Chairman and Nigerian President Bola Tinubu’s endorsement of the delegation’s trip to Niamey, which aimed to foster dialogue. The meeting between the scholars and military leader heading the coup, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, extended for several hours, according to Sheikh Abdullahi Bala Lau, who led the delegation.
“He said their doors were open to explore diplomacy and peace in resolving the matter,” Sheikh Abdullahi Bala Lau conveyed, as reported by Al Jazeera. General Abdourahamane Tchiani underscored the historical ties between Niger and Nigeria, emphasizing their fraternal relationship and the necessity to amicably address issues.
Notably, the military authorities have yet to issue an official statement regarding the meeting. The coup leaders had previously rebuffed diplomatic overtures from ECOWAS, the US, and other parties, raising concerns about potential escalation of conflict in the Sahel region of Africa.
Presently, ECOWAS is actively pursuing further negotiations with the military leadership in Niger. The ECOWAS parliament has announced plans to request permission from the chair, Bola Tinubu, to travel to Niger in an effort to address the situation, as per the bloc’s spokesperson.
Meanwhile, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea have expressed their support for Niger’s newly established military authorities. General Abdourahamane Tchiani led a delegation to Guinea’s capital, Conakry, to express gratitude for the support provided by the country’s leadership. During the meeting, Guinea’s interim President Mamady Doumbouya reaffirmed their Pan-African stance, asserting their commitment to standing by their people in times of difficulty.
On August 10, West African leaders issued orders for the immediate activation and deployment of a regional standby force to restore constitutional order in coup-affected nation, as reported by CNN. Following the expiration of a one-week ultimatum, ECOWAS leaders held a meeting in Nigeria’s Abuja.
Omar Alieu Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission, emphasized their determination to explore all possible avenues for a peaceful resolution to the crisis. The statement highlighted their preference for diplomatic resolution and their readiness to deploy troops as a last resort, should the situation warrant it.