'obvious reasons'

Niger putschists say no to ECOWAS mission

By AFP, The Africa Report

Posted on August 8, 2023 14:04

Supporters of Niger’s coup leaders take part in a rally at a stadium in Niamey, Niger, 6 August, 2023. (REUTERS/Mahamadou Hamidou)
Supporters of Niger’s coup leaders take part in a rally at a stadium in Niamey, Niger, 6 August, 2023. (REUTERS/Mahamadou Hamidou)

The coup leaders who toppled the country’s elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, cite ‘security’ as the reason they cannot receive a delegation from the regional bloc.

Niger’s coup leaders have told the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that they cannot receive a proposed mission to Niamey for “security” reasons, according to an official letter.

“The current context of public anger and revolt following the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS does not permit the welcoming of this delegation in the required conditions of serenity and security,” the foreign ministry said in a letter to the ECOWAS representation in Niamey.

The West African bloc imposed trade and financial sanctions against Niger after rebel soldiers toppled the country’s elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, on 26 July.

The bloc also issued an ultimatum, which expired on Sunday, for reinstating Bazoum or else face the risk of use of force.

It had sought to send a delegation to the capital Niamey on Tuesday ahead of a crisis summit on Thursday in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.

The coup leaders’ letter, dated Monday, said: “The postponement of the announced mission to Niamey is necessary, as is the reworking of certain aspects of the (delegation’s) schedule.”

The schedule “includes meetings with certain personalities which cannot take place for obvious reasons of security given the atmosphere of the threat of aggression against Niger,” it said.

In the same document, the putschists also touched upon “the need to agree in advance…on the dates, outlines, and programme of the said visits.” With allusions to “meetings with certain personalities,” that are subject to review, such as a request by the delegation to meet President Mohamed Bazoum, who has been held in  custody by the putchists since 26 July.

While pointing out that land and air borders were closed following ECOWAS sanctions on 30 July, the junta reiterated its “readiness to enter into discussions with delegations or emissaries concerning the situation in Niger.”

The tripartite mediation was to have been led by former Nigerian President Abdulsalami Abubakar, accompanied by Ghanaian Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the African Union’s High Representative for the Silencing the Guns Campaign, and Mozambican Leonardo Santos Simão, the UN Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel.

On 3 August, the mediation attempt by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, and Abdulsalami Abubakar had already failed. The two men arrived in Niamey late in the afternoon and did not leave the airport.

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