A delegation from the Economic Community of West African
States (ECOWAS) has arrived in the Niger Republic in a last-ditch diplomatic
effort to restore constitutional order in the country.
The delegation led by Abdulsalami Abubakar, former head of
state, was received by Ali Lamine Zeine, Niger’s prime minister, on Saturday
afternoon in Niamey, the country’s capital.
Abdulsalami was also accompanied by Muhammad Abubakar, the
Sultan of Sokoto.
Since last month when President Mohamed Bazoum was toppled
by the country’s military, efforts by nations and global organisations to reach
a peaceful resolution with the mutinous soldiers have failed.
A previous ECOWAS delegation led by Abdulsalami, two weeks
ago tried to meet Bazoum and Abdourahamane Tiani, the coup leader, but was not
The country’s military junta had also, at the last minute,
rejected a tripartite peace mission from ECOWAS, the African Union (AU), and
the United Nations (UN).
Victoria Nuland, United States acting deputy secretary of
state, was also denied permission to meet with Tiani or with Bazoum, who has
been held hostage since the power grab. Instead, Nuland spoke for two hours
with other army officers.
At the end of a two-day meeting on Friday, Abdel-Fatau
Musah, ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs, peace and security, said the
organisation’s defence chiefs had agreed on a day to intervene.
Musah said the troops were “ready to go anytime the order is
given” but added that the bloc still favours diplomacy as the way to restore
order in Niger.
“As we speak, we are
still readying [a] mediation mission into the country, so we have not shut any
door,” he added.
“Let no one be in doubt that if everything else fails, the
valiant forces of West Africa, both the military and the civilian components,
are ready to answer to the call of duty.”
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