Niger’s Post-Coup PM Hopes For ‘Agreement’ With ECOWAS

On Monday, Niger’s military-appointed prime minister expressed optimism about a compromise with the West African bloc ECOWAS, which has threatened to use force to restore civilian authority following a July coup.

“We have not stopped contacts with ECOWAS, we are continuing contacts. We have good hopes of reaching an agreement in the coming days,” Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine told a press conference in Niamey.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has placed severe penalties on Niger after rebel soldiers deposed the country’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, on July 26.

It has also threatened to intervene militarily to restore Bazoum, but only if peaceful efforts to resolve the conflict fail.

“We are bracing to be attacked at any time. Every preparation has been taken. It would be an unjust war. We are determined to defend ourselves if there is an attack,” Zeine told reporters.

A key question in the crisis is a timeline for returning to civilian rule.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu — who is also the current chairman of ECOWAS — last Thursday suggested a nine-month period such as his country underwent in the late 1990s.

“The president sees no reason why such cannot be replicated in Niger, if Niger’s military authorities are sincere,” the Nigerian presidency said in a statement.

Algeria, Niger’s influential northern neighbour, has proposed a six-month transition.

The military overlords have yet to respond to the suggestions, despite earlier speaking of a three-year transition period.

Following a series of coups in its region since 2020, ECOWAS has taken a tough stance toward Niger.

Military coups have gained power in Mali and Burkina Faso, where, like in Niger, armed forces losses are skyrocketing in the face of a long-running jihadist insurgency.

In Guinea, a putsch occurred in 2021 after the country’s octogenarian president, Alpha Conde, ran for a third term in office, which opponents said violated constitutional boundaries.

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