Niger Coup: ECOWAS Delegation Meets Overthrown President Mohamed Bazoum
A delegation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Saturday in Niamey, Niger Republic, met the ousted President of the West African country, Mohamed Bazoum.
The President was overthrown by a coup d’etat at the end of July and held prisoner by the junta.
This diplomatic mediation comes the day after an announcement by the ECOWAS that it was ready to use force to restore constitutional order in Niger.
On Friday, the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security of the regional organization, Abdel-Fatau Musah announced that the mission of the delegation aimed to “continue to follow the peaceful path to restore constitutional order.
“We are ready to intervene as soon as the order is given. The day of the intervention has also been fixed,” he also said, after a two-day meeting of the chiefs of staff. West Africans in Accra.
According to him, at this meeting we agreed “the strategic objectives, the necessary equipment and the commitment of the Member States” for this possible intervention.
On August 10, West African leaders ordered the deployment of a “standby force”, the outlines of which were drawn on Friday in Accra.
Neither the terms nor a possible timetable have however been made public.
On Friday, the new Prime Minister of Niger, met with a UN delegation led by Leonardo Santos Simão, the secretary general’s special representative for West Africa and the Sahel.
At the end of the meeting, Mr. Simão hoped that “the country would return as quickly as possible to normality and constitutional legality”.
In Niamey, the new military regime had declared that an armed intervention would be an “illegal and senseless aggression”.
On Saturday morning, thousands of volunteers were reported to have gathered near the Seyni Kountché Stadium in the City Center of the capital in response to a call from several organizations to be registered as potentially mobilized civilian auxiliaries in support of the armed forces.
However, the ECOWAS delegation met Niger’s ousted President Mohamed Bazoum and held talks with junta leader, General Abdourahmane Tchiani.
A plane carrying the delegation had landed in the capital Niamey at about 1pm (12:00 GMT) on Saturday, a day after the bloc’s military chiefs said they were ready to intervene militarily to reinstate Bazoum.
Niger’s governing military council confirmed the arrival of the ECOWAS representatives, headed by former Nigerian leader Abdulsalami Abubakar.
The group was allowed to meet Bazoum, the first time foreign officials have seen the ousted leader in weeks.
“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 Abubakar.
“Without doubt, the meeting has opened discussions to lead to a way to resolve this crisis.”
A previous ECOWAS delegation led by Abubakar earlier this month tried and failed to meet Bazoum and the coup leader.
The ECOWAS commissioner for peace and security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, had on Friday revealed that 11 of its 15 member states agreed to commit troops to a military Deployment in Niger to forcefully restore constitutional order, saying they were “ready to go” whenever the order was given.