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W-Africa Military Chiefs to Discuss Niger Crisis This Week

Military chiefs from the West African bloc, ECOWAS, will meet in Ghana this week to discuss possible intervention in Niger, military and political sources in the region said yesterday.

This came on a day human rights activists in Niger said they had been unable to gain access to top political officials who were detained after the coup nearly three weeks ago.

This is even as US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken said there was still space for diplomacy to reverse the coup in Niger and lauded President Bola Tinubu for his leadership on the crisis in Niger.

The meeting on Thursday and Friday, originally scheduled for last weekend but postponed, came after ECOWAS leaders last week approved deployment of a “standby force to restore constitutional order” in Niger, which president was toppled on July 26.

Their summit, held in the Nigerian capital Abuja last Thursday, also reaffirmed the bloc’s preference for a diplomatic outcome.

Rights group in Niger says it can’t get access to detained officials

Also yesterday, human rights activists in Niger said they have been unable to gain access to top political officials who were detained after mutinous soldiers ousted the African country’s democratically elected president nearly three weeks ago.

The military officers, who carried out the coup against President Mohamed Bazoum, also arrested several former government ministers and other political leaders, according to Ali Idrissa, executive secretary of the Network of Organizations for Transparency and Analysis of Budgets, a local human rights group.

The group said requests to see them and check on their well-being had gone unanswered.

The junta that seized power has held Bazoum, his wife and son under house arrest in their compound in the capital since July 26, saying it planned to prosecute Bazoum for “high treason” and undermining state security, crimes that are eligible for the death penalty in Niger.

ECCAS meets Tinubu, support ECOWAS sanctions on junta

In a similar development, President Bola Tinubu yesterday praised the solidarity of the Economic Community of Central African States, ECCAS, on the political impasse in Republic of Niger.

The President spoke when he received the Special Envoy of President Ali Bongo Ondimba and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Gabon, Mr. Hermann Immongault, at State House in Abuja.

Tiinubu said the special message of support and solidarity from President Bongo, who doubles as the Chairman of ECCAS, expressing the full support of ECOWAS resolutions on the unconstitutional takeover of government in Niger, proved once more that military interference in democratic governance was not acceptable anywhere, and certainly, no longer so on the African continent.

“I appreciate the solidarity and support of President Bongo on the situation in Niger. We are working not to compound the problem. We have well-meaning people who have intervened. I understand the fear of our people on any form of military action.

”We are working to keep the sanctions in place and we are following them to the letter. We are happy to know that ECCAS is with us on this. Interference in democratic governance is not acceptable to ECOWAS.”

In his remarks, the special envoy commended the leadership of ECOWAS and President Tinubu for the steps taken so far to restore democracy in Niger, adding that President Bongo and ECCAS were fully in support of all ECOWAS resolutions.

“President Bongo has been following your efforts and those of other ECOWAS leaders on the situation in Niger. President Bongo and ECCAS strongly condemn coup in Niger. He sent me here to tell you that he supports ECOWAS and your leadership in what you are doing to ensure democratic governance is restored in Niger.”

Blinken commends Tinubu for ECOWAS leadership in Niger Republic crisis

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has commended President Bola Tinubu’s leadership of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, on the Niger Republic crisis.

His commendation came as the National Missioner of Ansar-ud-Deen Society, who was on the delegation to meet the coup leader in Niger Republic, Abdurrahman Ahmad, said the threat to prosecute ousted President Mohamed Bazoum by leaders of the coup in the country could just be a bargaining chip.

The State Department, which said Blinken spoke with President Tinubu via phone on Monday, stated: “The Secretary commended President Tinubu’s leadership of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS), Second Extraordinary Summit on the situation in the Republic of Niger.

“He noted the importance of maintaining pressure on the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland, CNSP, to restore constitutional order and to see President Mohamed Bazoum and his family released.”

In a tweet, Blinken said: “Spoke to Nigerian President Tinubu to commend his leadership of the Economic Community of West African States and discussed shared efforts to restore constitutional order in Niger.”

Blinken says still ‘space for diplomacy’ to reverse Niger coup

Blinken also said yesterday he still saw a chance for diplomacy to reverse a coup in Niger, as the West African bloc keeps up pressure on the military rulers in Niamey.

“We remain very focused on diplomacy in achieving the results that we want, which is the return of the constitutional order, and I believe that there continues to be space for diplomacy in achieving that result,” Blinken told reporters.

Niger’s military-appointed PM visiting neighbouring Chad

Niger’s military-appointed prime minister made a visit yesterday to neighbouring Chad, holding talks with his counterpart and President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, the Chadian government and Deby’s office said.

Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, a civilian appointed following the coup in Niger on July 26, arrived for a “working visit,” the government said on Facebook, while the presidency’s press office said he handed Deby a “message” from the head of regime.

Putin talks to Mali’s leader about Niger coup, stresses peace

Similarly, Russian President Vladimir Putin, yesterday spoke to Mali’s military leader about the recent coup in Niger, a call likely to cause concern among Western governments that fear growing Russian influence in West Africa’s Sahel region.

”Putin stressed the importance of a peaceful resolution of the situation for a more stable Sahel,” Mali’s interim President, Assimi Goita, said on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
The Kremlin said in a statement that the call was initiated by Mali.

“The parties specifically focused on the current situation in the Sahara-Sahel region and emphasised, in particular, the importance of settling the situation in the Republic of Niger solely through peaceful political and diplomatic means,” it said.

Threat to prosecute Bazoum may be bargaining chip, says Islamic cleric on team to Niger

Meanwhile, Abdurrahman Ahmad, the national missioner of Ansar-ud-Deen society, said, yesterday that the coup leaders; threat to prosecute ousted President Bazoum could just be a bargaining chip.

Ahmad, who stated this in an interview on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, yesterday, said the junta “cannot afford to renege on their promise and commitment.”

He said: “I think, as far as I’m concerned, they want to be negotiating from a position of relative strength, not absolute weakness.

“The way I see the people, the way we interacted with them, they cannot afford to renege on their promise and commitment.

“This is why the president (Tinubu) also has graciously approved the continuing contact, diplomatic effort with them.

“They were very receptive when we met with them. He said his government is ready for negotiations and there were no conditions, except that they don’t feel safe travelling outside of Niger.

“He assured that they were not here to stay and that they felt the most patriotic thing to do at that point in time was to seize power to save the people, their country and the sub-region.”

Source : Vanguard