Niger Coup leader, General Abdourahmane Tchiani, has proposed a three-year transition return to democracy, following a meeting with a delegation of West African leaders. Tchiani warned that any attack on the country would “not be a walk in the park” for those involved.
Speaking on national television late on Saturday, Tchiani did not provide specific details regarding the potential transition but stated that the principles for the move would be decided within 30 days at a dialogue to be hosted by the ruling military council.
During the meeting with delegates from ECOWAS in the capital city of Niger, Niamey, Tchiani emphasized that neither the National Council for Safeguard of the Homeland nor the people of Niger desire war, and are open to dialogue. However, he made it clear that if an attack were to be undertaken against them, it would not be an easy task.
ECOWAS has imposed severe sanctions on Niger in response to the coup that took place on July 26. The organization has also ordered the deployment of a “standby force” with the aim of restoring constitutional rule in the country. On Friday, ECOWAS announced that an undisclosed “D-Day” had been agreed upon for possible military intervention, and that 11 out of its 15 member states had committed troops to the operation.
In his 12-minute speech, Tchiani accused ECOWAS of preparing to attack Niger by collaborating with a foreign army to set up an occupying force. He strongly denounced the sanctions imposed by the regional bloc, referring to them as “illegal” and “inhuman.”
The proposal for a three-year transition of power in Niger comes at a crucial time when the country is facing political uncertainties. It is important to note that the situation in Niger has a significant impact not only on the nation but also on the stability of the entire West African region.
The proposal for a transition to democracy indicates a willingness on the part of the coup leaders to engage in negotiations and find a peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis. It demonstrates a recognition of the importance of democratic governance and the need to restore stability and security in Niger.
However, it remains to be seen how these proposed principles for the transition will be implemented and whether they can effectively lead to a peaceful resolution. The next 30 days will be crucial in determining the direction that Niger takes and the steps that will be taken to ensure a smooth transition.
I would like to reiterate our commitment to not seizing power. Furthermore, I want to emphasize that we are open to engaging in dialogue, as long as it considers the aspirations of the proud and resilient people of Niger,” he stated.
In comparison to previous coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea, ECOWAS has taken a more stringent stance on the July 26 coup in Niger. Despite the possibility of military intervention, the bloc is actively pursuing diplomatic solutions to reverse this power seizure.
Niger holds strategic importance for both regional and global powers due to its uranium and oil reserves, as well as its role as a base for foreign troops involved in combatting armed groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIL.
ECOWAS Meets Bazoum: A Step Toward Resolving Niger’s Crisis
In the midst of political turmoil and instability, Niger finds hope as the Economic Community of West African States meets with the deposed president Mohamed Bazoum and other key figures. The visit by a delegation led by former Nigerian head of state General Abdulsalami Abubakar signifies a step towards resolving the crisis that has gripped the nation. With the support of the international community, including the United States and the United Nations, efforts are underway to bring about a peaceful resolution and restore the constitutional order in Niger.
The ECOWAS delegation’s arrival in Niamey comes at a crucial time, as the country grapples with the aftermath of a military coup. The coup leaders have previously resisted missions from outside entities, but they received the delegation headed by Abubakar and engaged in discussions. This willingness to engage in dialogue raises hope for a peaceful resolution.
During their visit, the ECOWAS delegation had the opportunity to meet with both the military-appointed prime minister and the deposed President Bazoum, who has been under house arrest since the takeover. These meetings allowed the delegation to gain insights into the situation on the ground and hear directly from the people involved. Bazoum shared the challenges he has faced and his perspective on the crisis. The delegation pledged to bring these concerns to the leaders who sent them, demonstrating their commitment to addressing the issues at hand.
The international community has also played an active role in supporting Niger’s reconciliation efforts. The new United States ambassador to Niger, Kathleen FitzGibbon, arrived in Niamey shortly before the ECOWAS delegation. Her focus is on advocating for a diplomatic solution that upholds the constitutional order and ensures the immediate release of Bazoum, his family, and all unlawfully detained individuals. The United States’ involvement signifies its commitment to stability and democracy in Niger.
Furthermore, the United Nations has dispatched Leonardo Santos Simao, its special representative for West Africa and the Sahel, to facilitate a swift and peaceful resolution to Niger’s crisis. This shows the global recognition of the urgency to resolve the situation and restore stability in the country.
A large crowd gathered outside the main stadium to enroll as fighters and volunteers, ready to assist the military if needed. Many individuals had been waiting since the early hours of the morning, while passionate groups of young people chanted in support of the military rulers and against ECOWAS and France, their former colonial ruler.
“I am here to join the ranks and serve as a dedicated soldier. We are all here for that purpose,” expressed Ismail Hassan, a resident patiently queuing to register. “With luck, we will all be called upon.”
Event organizer Amsarou Bako emphasized that the military was not directly responsible for recruiting volunteers to defend the coup; however, they were aware of this mobilization effort. After several hours into registration, organizers announced an unexpected postponement without providing any specific reasons behind it.
‘Discord in the ranks’ – A Turbulent Situation in Niger
Niger, a country once seen as one of the last democratic nations in the Sahel region, is now grappling with serious political turmoil. Despite the apparent public support for the coup leaders, analysts suggest that the military has not been able to exert full control over the country. This has led to disorientation, confusion, and a significant amount of discord within the ranks of the armed forces.
Bisa Williams, a former US ambassador to Niger, sheds light on the situation, stating, “This junta is throwing every tactic it has heard about and seeing if it will work. They have professed to have freedom of choice, yet they have repressed all of the pro-Bazoum protests, and my understanding is that there have been demonstrations or attempted demonstrations all over the country.” Clearly, the military’s actions are contradictory to the freedom they claim to uphold.
Furthermore, the concentration of armed forces in the capital city of Niamey has left other regions of the country vulnerable. Williams notes, “I have heard lots of reports of discontent within the military, and you are seeing a lot of vulnerability in Niger right now since so many armed forces have been pulled into Niamey and away from the outskirts of the other regions of the country, leaving these areas wide open.” This situation not only creates discord within the armed forces but also leaves the country exposed to potential threats.
Prior to the coup, Western countries viewed Niger as a crucial partner in the fight against al-Qaeda and ISIL in the Sahel region. Consequently, they invested millions of dollars in military aid to strengthen Niger’s forces. Unfortunately, the political turmoil has played into the hands of these extremist groups. Former fighters have taken advantage of the suspended military operations of French and US troops, as well as the distracted Nigerien army, to gain freedom of movement and regroup.
The discord within the ranks of the military presents a significant challenge for the country’s stability. It not only undermines the supposed purpose of the coup but also hampers efforts to combat extremist groups. The lack of unity and clear direction within the armed forces may further exacerbate the already fragile situation in Niger, allowing these groups to establish a stronger foothold.
Recently, a tragic event unfolded in Niger as militants ambushed the military, resulting in the loss of 17 soldiers and injury to 20 others. This attack marked the first significant assault on Niger’s army in half a year. Shockingly, just one day later, fighters believed to be associated with ISIL claimed the lives of at least 50 innocent civilians in Tillaberi region.
Amidst these distressing events, Corinne Dufka, a leading political analyst specializing in the Sahel region, expressed her concern. She highlighted that while political matters dominate the capital, deadly jihadist attacks continue to plague rural areas. Dufka emphasized that these recent acts of violence should serve as a wake-up call for all parties involved to expedite an inclusive transition. By doing so, they can focus their efforts on safeguarding civilians from the devastating consequences of war.
It is crucial that despite political distractions, urgent action is taken to protect vulnerable communities and bring peace back to Niger.