In a significant diplomatic move, President Bola Tinubu engaged in a meeting on Tuesday with Omar Touray, the President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, and former Head of State Abdulsalami Abubakar, at the Aso Villa.
Also present in the meeting was Nuhu Ribadu, the National Security Adviser (NSA) to the President. The gathering was convened to address the recent coup in the neighboring Niger Republic.
Over the past weekend, Abdulsalami Abubakar led an ECOWAS delegation to Niger, engaging in pivotal negotiations aimed at restoring power to deposed President Mohamed Bazoum.
During the meeting with President Tinubu, Abdulsalami, in his capacity as ECOWAS chairperson, conveyed the details of the discussions held with the junta leaders in Niger.
Post the discussion with President Tinubu, Abdulsalami expressed optimism that diplomatic channels would effectively resolve the political turmoil in Niger without necessitating military intervention.
Describing the discussions in Niger as fruitful, Abdulsalami Abubakar conveyed that while the coup leader, Abdourahamane Tiani, indicated a plan to return to civilian rule within three years, ECOWAS rejected this proposition.
Amid these developments, the African Union has decided to suspend the Niger Republic due to the ongoing crisis.
The coup, which transpired on July 26 and led to the removal of President Bazoum, prompted a stern response from ECOWAS, which threatened to use force to reinstate him if necessary.
ECOWAS has maintained its readiness to implement a “standby force” as a last resort to restore democratic governance in Niger. Simultaneously, the regional bloc continues its pursuit of diplomatic resolutions.
This coup has generated heightened international concerns regarding the Sahel region, where escalating jihadist insurgencies linked to groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have been observed.
Niger’s situation marks the fourth instance of a coup occurring in West Africa since 2020, following similar events in Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali.
The military leadership in Burkina Faso and Mali have communicated that any external military intervention in their neighboring nation would be viewed as a “declaration of war” against their respective countries.
This event signifies the fifth coup in Niger’s history since gaining independence from France in 1960. The election of Mohamed Bazoum in 2021 was a historic milestone, initiating the country’s first peaceful transfer of power.
Subsequent to the coup, President Bazoum and his family have been held at the official presidential residence, prompting growing international concerns about their well-being and conditions of detention.