President Bola Tinubu, in his capacity as the ECOWAS chairman, affirmed on Tuesday that the Economic Community of West African States’ stringent sanctions against the Niger junta would remain in place, despite the military leaders’ intent to negotiate with the regional bloc and find a solution to the crisis in the francophone nation.
During a meeting with the Special Envoy of President Ali Ondimba and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Gabon, Hermann Immongault, at the State House in Abuja, Tinubu emphasized that the era of military takeovers in governance was no longer acceptable in Africa.
However, the junta led by Gen Abdourahmane Tchiani has made a demand for the restoration of electricity, which was cut off by the Federal Government as part of the sanctions imposed on the coup leaders following the ousting of President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26.
Tchiani conveyed this request during a meeting with the Ulamas from Nigeria in Niamey on Saturday. He expressed frustration that the regional bloc had not engaged with them before imposing various embargoes, including the threat of military intervention to reinstate democracy.
Tinubu reiterates its stance against coups
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Tinubu, reinforcing the stance of the regional body, reiterated that any attempt by the Niger junta to intimidate or harass Bazoum, who is currently in custody, would not be accepted.
“We will work with ECCAS and keep President Bongo informed on our actions and we will continue to collaborate,” the President assured.
The Special Envoy commended ECOWAS leadership and Tinubu for their efforts to restore democracy in Niger, conveying President Bongo’s support and solidarity for ECOWAS resolutions. The Special Envoy acknowledged the condemnation of the coup in Niger by President Bongo and ECCAS, expressing their firm support for ECOWAS and its initiatives.
As the junta’s demands were revealed, Prof. Abubakar Aliyu, a member of the Nigerian delegation to Niger and Secretary General of Jammatul Nasril Islam disclosed that the military leaders sought the restoration of power supply to their nation.
In adherence to ECOWAS’ directive to prepare for potential deployment to Niger, West African military chiefs are scheduled to convene in Accra, Ghana, this week to discuss potential intervention.
Despite the junta’s expressed willingness to engage in dialogue to resolve the crisis, the military chiefs’ meeting will take place. This occurs concurrently with the African Union-hosted talks in Addis Ababa, which aims to bring representatives from the regime and ECOWAS together for negotiations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has also entered the discourse, advocating for a peaceful political and diplomatic resolution to the crisis in a phone call with Mali’s junta leader, Assimi Goita. The call has drawn attention due to Mali’s growing alliance with Moscow since its 2020 coup, raising concerns over increased Russian influence in West Africa’s Sahel region.
Niger’s strategic significance, particularly its uranium and oil resources, makes it of interest to global powers like the United States, China, Europe, and Russia. The junta’s refusal to reinstate the ousted President, coupled with its dismissal of negotiations, has drawn international attention and engagement.