The leader of the Niger coup has pledged to restore civilian control to the West African country in three years. After meeting with mediators from the West African regional organisation Ecowas in the nation’s capital, Niamey, Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani made the declaration.
However, ECOWAS did not approve of the three years of period after talks on Sunday. The bloc’s commissioner, Abdel-Fatau Musah, said, “Ecowas is not accepting any prolonged transition again in the region. They just have to get ready to hand over in the shortest possible time.”
He also said the “military aspect is very much on”. He further added, “The earlier they give power back to civilians and concentrate on their primary responsibility that is defending the territorial integrity of Niger, the better for them.”
If negotiations break down, ECOWAS has vowed to use military force to restore President Mohamed Bazoum to power.
The leader of the junta declared that Niger would defend itself against any outside involvement but did not seek a war. In a warning via a televised address on Saturday evening, General Tchiani said, “If an attack were to be undertaken against us, it will not be the walk in the park some people seem to think.”
Gen. Tchiani also criticised the “illegal and inhumane” sanctions that Ecowas put on the landlocked nation. This has included power cuts that have caused blackouts in Niamey and other major cities as well as the obstruction of necessary imports.
Food prices have increased as a result of lorry drivers being unable to transport supplies for weeks.
He also said, “Sanctions are not conceived with the aim of finding a solution but to bring us to our knees and humiliate us.”
Thousands of men showed up at a stadium in Niamey on Saturday to sign up for a volunteer force in case of invasion, but the registration process was halted due to crowding, according to the Reuters news agency.
The US and France, both of which have military bases in Niger, have supported regional efforts to overthrow the coup. These bases are a part of the campaign against extremist organisations across the greater Sahel.
Military intervention, according to the junta leader who oversaw the presidential guard prior to assuming over on July 26, might exacerbate Islamist insurgencies linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.
“They seem ignorant to the fact that it is in large part thanks to the professionalism and valour of the defence and security forces of Niger that Niger has remained a barrier preventing terrorist hordes from destabilising the whole region,” Tchiani said.
The coup is reminiscent of recent coups that occurred in Mali and Burkina Faso, two bordering countries.
Additionally, Russia’s mercenary force Wagner is increasing its influence in the larger Sahel region.
Gen. Tchiani claimed that while the specifics of the transfer of power would be determined upon within 30 days during a “dialogue” organised by the coup leaders, he did not provide any other information.
Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, a former military commander in Nigeria, served as the delegation’s leader, and it also included Muhammadu Sa’adu Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto, who is Nigeria’s most senior Muslim leader.
He has enormous power in Niger, a nation that was once a part of the Sokoto Caliphate, a stronghold before colonial administration.
The meeting between junta’s leaders and Ecowas’ representatives was the first such that took place on Saturday.