Niger’s new military government outlines transitional period
Niger will return to civilian rule within three years, the West African nation’s new military government has pledged, while warning nearby states against trying to intervene in Niamey’s internal affairs.
In a televised address on Saturday evening, General Abdourahmane Tchiani – who deposed President Mohamed Bazoum in late July – said his government would decide on the principles for a transition within a month. The process itself is expected to take “no longer than three years,” Tchiani said.
He also stressed that while neither his government, nor the Nigerien people, want war and “remain open to dialogue,” the country is ready to defend itself against any external “aggression.” Tchiani predicted that such an intervention “would not be the walk in the park that some believe.
Commenting on his first meeting with representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the general expressed confidence that the two sides “will work together to find a way out of the crisis, in the interests of all.”
On Friday, the bloc’s commissioner for political affairs, peace and security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, warned that ECOWAS had decided on “D-Day” for military action in Niger, adding that the member states had “agreed and fine-tuned what will be required for the intervention.”
Last week, the organization ordered the deployment of a “standby force” to reinstall President Bazoum in Niger.
According to Musah, 11 of the 15 member states have agreed to deploy their troops, should an intervention take place.
However, not all ECOWAS members are on board. Chad and Guinea have opposed both sanctions on Niger and any military deployment.
The military governments in Burkina Faso and Mali have gone as far as warning that they will consider a military operation against Niger tantamount to a declaration of war against themselves.
The new military government in Niamey, for its part, has accused ECOWAS of acting at the behest of former colonial ruler France.
Niger’s mines are an important source of uranium for France’s nuclear reactors. Paris has 1,500 soldiers stationed in the country, which the new military rulers want gone. The US has 1,000 military personnel in the country, also declared unwelcome. The contingents were deployed to Niger to fight against numerous terrorist and insurgent groups operating in the Sahel region.