The proposed three-year transition plan put forth by the military junta of Niger Republic has been unequivocally rejected by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
General Abdourahamane Tchiani, leader of the coup, had previously assured an ECOWAS delegation, headed by retired General Abadulsalami Abubakar, during a meeting in Niamey last Saturday, that his military government intended to guide Niger Republic back to democracy within a span of three years.
However, Abdel-Fatau Musah, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, emphasized in an interview with the BBC on Sunday that the proposed plan had been met with outright disapproval by ECOWAS, setting the stage for potential military action.
Conversely, amidst these developments, a surge of support for the military junta emerged as thousands of Nigeriens flooded the streets, demonstrating their endorsement of the coup leaders.
These unfolding events occurred against the backdrop of ECOWAS’s unwavering stance to resort to military operations in the country if diplomatic efforts prove futile in reinstating ousted President Mohamed Bazoum to his rightful position.
Coinciding with the demonstrations was an announcement from a government official in Niger, disclosing that discussions between the ECOWAS delegation, led by former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar, and the junta had yielded limited progress.
The official highlighted the deep divisions within the presidential guard, the orchestrators of President Bazoum’s ousting. Concerns were raised about the potential response from the majority of soldiers in the presidential guard if ECOWAS initiated a military assault on Niger Republic. The prediction was that these soldiers might likely vacate the presidential complex.
In a parallel development, Pope Francis urged for a diplomatic resolution to the ongoing political deadlock.
Despite a ban on demonstrations by the new military leaders, it became evident that those in support of the coup were tacitly allowed to voice their endorsement.
Rally participants brandished placards bearing messages such as “stop the military intervention” and “No to sanctions,” referring to the financial and trade penalties imposed by ECOWAS just four days after the July 26 coup.
The pro-coup rally was accompanied by musical performances praising the new military regime, according to AFP reports.
This rally marked a series of similar pro-coup demonstrations and unfolded a day after the newly-installed military leader in Niamey warned that an attack on Niger would not be undertaken effortlessly.
In a televised address over the weekend, General Abdourahamane Tchiani affirmed that he had no intention of retaining power indefinitely and pledged that the transition of authority back to civilian rule would conclude within three years.
Niger’s new ruling body accused France, a close ally of Bazoum, of influencing ECOWAS’s anti-coup stance. However, ECOWAS maintained its pursuit of a diplomatic solution over the weekend following a meeting of the bloc’s chiefs of staff in Accra, Ghana.
The coalition of 17 nations disclosed that while it had identified a potential intervention date, it simultaneously dispatched a diplomatic envoy led by General Abdulsalami Abubakar to Niamey. The delegation engaged with detained President Bazoum, as televised by Niger television, and held discussions with Tchiani, the details of which remained undisclosed.
In his Saturday address, Tchiani implied that ECOWAS was preparing for a potential attack on Niger, possibly in collaboration with a foreign military force, although the specific nation was unspecified.
Coup leader Tchiani issued a warning, affirming that both the military and the people of Niger would resolutely defend their nation should ECOWAS proceed with its contemplated invasion.
However, an official in Niger Republic’s capital, Niamey, speaking anonymously, stated that the weekend’s two-hour meeting between Niger’s new military regime and an ECOWAS delegation yielded minimal results. This marked the first time that the junta’s head, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, engaged with an ECOWAS delegation after previously rebuffing their attempts.