Coup: U.S Pressurises Tinubu As ECOWAS Fumes Over Mixed Signal

Coup: U.S Pressurises Tinubu As ECOWAS Fumes Over Mixed Signal

Coup: U.S Pressurises Tinubu As ECOWAS Fumes Over Mixed Signal

FCGs reports that after Sunday’s rapprochement by the military leaders in Niger Republic to embrace dialogue with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the West African bloc yesterday lashed out at threats by Niger’s military rulers to prosecute ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum, saying this contradicted the regime’s declared willingness to resolve the crisis peacefully.

According to GUARDIAN, the coup leaders, who toppled Bazoum, said late Sunday that they had gathered evidence enabling them to prosecute Bazoum for “high treason and undermining the internal and external security of Niger.”

This, it said, was based on “contacts Bazoum had with nationals, foreign heads of state and officials in international organisations.” But in a statement on Monday, ECOWAS, confronted by the mixed signals from Niamey, Niger’s capital, angrily condemned the coup leaders’ stance, saying it had learned of the threats “with stupefaction”. “This represents yet another form of provocation and contradicts the reported willingness of the military authorities in the Republic of Niger to restore constitutional order through peaceful means.”

Bazoum, 63, and his family have been held at the president’s official residence since the coup on July 26, with international concern mounting over his condition in detention. However, Niger has said it would be able to thwart sanctions imposed by ECOWAS in response to last month’s coup.

In an interview released yesterday by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, new Prime Minister, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, said: “We think that even though it is an unfair challenge that has been imposed on us, we should be able to overcome it. And we will overcome it.”

ECOWAS had severed financial transactions and electricity supplies and closed borders with landlocked Niger, blocking much-needed imports to one of the world’s poorest countries. The military leaders earlier said the sanctions had made it difficult for people to access medicines, food and electricity, describing the measures as “illegal, inhumane and humiliating.”

But Zeine also expressed optimism about a visit by a Nigerian delegation and talks with ECOWAS, and stressed the importance of Niger’s ties with Nigeria as well as the West African bloc.

“We have a great interest in preserving this important and historical relationship and also in having ECOWAS work on purely economic issues first,” he said.

“Because the basic principle of solidarity is to work to enable all the states that belong to this union to be in a position to create the conditions for prosperity, and also to ensure that each of the countries benefits from the solidarity of the community.”

He also urged people to “trust the new authorities. We have focused our actions on serving them with complete integrity and competence,” he said.

Yesterday, for the second time since the coup, United States Secretary of States, Antony Blinken, again commended President Bola Tinubu’s leadership of ECOWAS and reiterated U.S. support to back the bloc’s efforts to restore constitutional order in Niger.

In a statement last night, Blinken said: “I spoke today with Nigerian President Bola Tinubu. I commended President Tinubu’s leadership of ECOWAS second Extraordinary Summit on the situation in the Republic of Niger. I noted the importance of maintaining pressure on the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) to restore constitutional order and to see President Bazoum and his family released.”

Washington also said it was “incredibly dismayed by the plan to try the detained president.”

The African Union (AU) also yesterday held talks on the Niger crisis as the country’s post-coup rulers sounded defiant, yet also pointing to diplomacy for a potential solution. Like ECOWAS’s reaction, talks at the AU’s headquarters in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa were nearly marred by a flare-up over threats by the regime to prosecute Niger’s deposed president.

“AU’s Peace & Security Council meets to receive an update on the evolution of the situation in Niger and the efforts to address it,” the pan-African body said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Those who attended included AU Commission chief, Moussa Faki Mahamat, as well as representatives from Niger and the West African bloc ECOWAS.

While the communiqué from AU was still being expected last night, Mahamat had during the opening remarks expressed deep concern at the reported poor conditions of Bazoum’s detention, calling his treatment at the hands of coup leaders “unacceptable.”

Bazoum, whose election in 2021 was a landmark, was toppled by members of his presidential guard. His ousting unleashed a shockwave around West Africa, where Mali and Burkina Faso — likewise battered by a jihadist insurgency — have also suffered military takeovers. Seeking to stop the cascade, ECOWAS slapped sanctions on Niger and last week approved deployment of a “standby force to restore constitutional order.”

A landlocked nation in the heart of the arid Sahel, Niger is one of the world’s poorest and most turbulent countries. It frequently ranks at the bottom of the Human Development Index, a United Nations (UN) benchmark of prosperity.

Bazoum’s election in 2021 marked the first time that the country had experienced a peaceful transition of power since gaining independence from France in 1960. He survived two attempted coups before being ousted, in the fifth putsch in the country’s history.


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