ABUJA/CONAKRY, Aug 13 (Naija247news) – The leaders of the recent coup in Niger have expressed their willingness to engage in diplomatic efforts to resolve the ongoing standoff with West Africa’s regional bloc. A delegation of senior Nigerian Islamic scholars met with the junta in Niamey on Sunday, in a move indicating the bloc’s commitment to peaceful resolution. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is exploring various avenues to reinstate civilian rule in Niger after the ousting of President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26. This event marked the seventh coup within West and Central Africa in the past three years.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
In a gesture of pursuit for a peaceful outcome, ECOWAS chairman and Nigerian President Bola Tinubu endorsed the mission to Niamey by the delegation of Islamic scholars, who had vowed to facilitate dialogue. The meeting between the scholars and junta leader General Abdourahamane Tiani lasted for several hours. According to Sheikh Abdullahi Bala Lau, who led the delegation, Tiani conveyed the junta’s willingness to explore diplomatic solutions and peace in resolving the matter.
Tiani highlighted the historical ties between Niger and Nigeria, stressing their fraternal relationship as neighboring countries. He called for amicable issue resolution between the two nations. Although the junta has not yet provided an official statement regarding the meeting, Tiani’s reported comments indicate a degree of openness to negotiation, a shift from their prior rebuffs of diplomatic attempts by ECOWAS and other entities.
The previous reluctance of coup leaders to engage in dialogue had raised concerns about the potential escalation of conflict in the already troubled Sahel region of West Africa, which is grappling with a severe Islamist insurgency. While ECOWAS has activated a standby military force as a contingency plan, the bloc is currently prioritizing negotiations. The bloc’s parliament announced its intention to seek permission from Tinubu, the current revolving chairman, to visit Niger for further discussions.
The situation is complex as any military intervention by ECOWAS could strain regional relationships, given that other junta-led countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea have expressed support for Niger’s new military authorities. In an effort to strengthen alliances, Tiani dispatched a delegation to Conakry, the capital of Guinea, to express gratitude for their support. Despite this, the scope of support, especially in terms of potential military assistance, remains unclear.
This situation has larger implications beyond Niger’s borders. The stability of Niger, a significant uranium producer and a Western ally against Islamist forces, is intertwined with the influence of global powers vying for strategic interests in the region. Notably, U.S., French, German, and Italian troops are stationed in Niger, and local factions of al Qaeda and Islamic State have caused considerable turmoil. Russia’s influence is also on the rise amid growing insecurity and diminishing democracy, leading to concerns among Western powers about the potential expansion of Russian clout.
As regional dynamics shift and uncertainty persists, finding a peaceful and diplomatic solution remains crucial for restoring stability in Niger and the broader West African region.