Niger Coup: US Envoy Holds ‘Difficult’ Talks with Junta Leaders

Niger Coup: US Envoy Holds 'Difficult' Talks with Junta Leaders
Niger Coup: US Envoy Holds 'Difficult' Talks with Junta Leaders
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Niger Coup: US Envoy Holds 'Difficult' Talks with Junta Leaders
Niger Coup: US Envoy Holds ‘Difficult’ Talks with Junta Leaders

In the wake of last month’s coup in Niger, a senior US official engaged in face-to-face discussions with the country’s military leadership, seeking a diplomatic resolution to the crisis. Acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland revealed that the conversations were marked by their candidness, acknowledging the complexity of the situation.

Ms. Nuland affirmed that while the United States remains committed to peaceful negotiations and the reinstatement of President Mohamed Bazoum, aid payments have been temporarily suspended. The West African region is set to convene on Thursday to deliberate on the ongoing turmoil.

The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), representing 15 nations in the region, had issued an ultimatum demanding Niger’s junta leaders to step down and restore the elected president by a specified deadline. Responding to this, the coup leaders opted to close Niger’s airspace, in defiance of potential military action by Ecowas.

In an effort to engage with the responsible parties and facilitate a return to constitutional order, Ms. Nuland held discussions for over two hours, extending an offer of assistance. However, the offer was not immediately accepted by the junta leaders.

While Ms. Nuland met with the new military chief of staff, Brigadier General Moussa Salaou Barmou, she did not hold talks with the self-proclaimed new leader, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, or with President Bazoum, who is currently in detention. Concerns were raised regarding reports of the coup leaders seeking support from Russia’s Wagner mercenary group to maintain control.

General Tchiani, who formerly served as the chief of the presidential guard to President Bazoum, seized power on July 26, citing a desire to prevent the decline of Niger. The ongoing instability has prompted France to caution its citizens against travel to the Sahel region due to growing anti-France sentiment.

The junta claimed that a “foreign power” was plotting an attack on Niger, following reports of Ecowas’ military intervention plan. While Ecowas had meticulously detailed such a plan, the focus remains on diplomatic efforts. Nigeria’s Senate discussed the situation after President Bola Tinubu emphasized the need for the Niger military to relinquish power.

Despite international pressure and calls for peaceful resolution, the coup leaders have demonstrated a reluctance to step down. Thousands of their supporters gathered defiantly at a stadium in Niamey, underlining the complex situation that continues to unfold in Niger.

Niger’s significance as a significant uranium producer, vital for nuclear power, along with its role as a key Western ally against Islamist militants in the Sahel region, adds further complexity to the ongoing crisis.

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