Niger junta leader announces plan to restore democracy in 3 years

Ecowas remains committed to resolving the crisis through diplomatic channels but is ready to apply force if negotiations prove unsuccessful

Maroosha Muzaffar
Sunday 20 August 2023 09:18 BST
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Niger ruling party headquarters in Niamey torched by coup supporters

The leader behind last month’s coup in Niger, General Abourahamane Tiani, said that the junta will restore civilian rule in the West African country within “three years”.

He revealed on Saturday on state television that the principles for the transition would be decided within 30 days at a dialogue to be hosted by the junta, the local media reported.

“I am convinced that ... we will work together to find a way out of the crisis, in the interests of all,” General Tchiani said.

On Saturday, a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States [Ecowas] arrived in Niger to hold discussions with the nation’s military leadership and the deposed president, Mohamed Bazoum.

Reports quoting a source associated with Ecowas said that Mr Bazoum appeared to be in “good spirits”, even though he was still detained and without electricity.

On August 10, Ecowas mandated the deployment of a “standby force” with the aim of reinstating constitutional governance in Niger.

Ecowas Commissioner for Peace and Security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, announced on Friday that 11 out of its 15 member states had consented to provide troops for military intervention, saying they were “ready to go”.

On Saturday, Gen Tchiani said in a televised address: “Our ambition is not to confiscate power.” He added that any transition of power “would not go beyond three years”.

“If an attack were to be undertaken against us, it will not be the walk in the park some people seem to think,” he added.

Niger’s military-appointed prime minister, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine was quoted as saying by the New York Times that “nothing will happen to him [deposed president], because we don’t have a tradition of violence in Niger”.

Meanwhile, Kathleen Fitzgibbons has arrived in Niamey to lead the US mission in Niger, the US State Department said on Saturday. Ms Fitzgibbons, a career diplomat with extensive experience in Africa, will “bolster efforts to help resolve the political crisis at this critical time”.

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