NIAMEY — Niger’s ousted prime minister on Saturday clung to the dimming hope that final week’s army coup might be overturned by diplomacy, he advised Reuters on the eve of a deadline set by regional powers to reinstate the elected authorities.
Niger’s army takeover, the seventh in West and Central Africa in three years, has rocked the western Sahel area, one of many poorest on this planet, which has strategic significance to world powers.
Defence chiefs from the Financial Group of West African States (ECOWAS) have drawn up a plan for army motion if the coup leaders don’t reinstate elected President Mohamed Bazoum, presently being held by the army at his residence in Niamey, by Sunday.
Their pledge has raised the specter of additional battle in a area that’s already battling a lethal Islamist insurgency that has killed hundreds and compelled hundreds of thousands to flee.
Nonetheless, because the deadline loomed, Bazoum’s Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou believed a last-minute intervention was doable, he mentioned in an interview in Paris.
“We’re nonetheless hopeful,” mentioned Mahamadou, who was in Rome when the coup occurred. “We count on President Bazoum to be launched, reinstated, and all establishments that have been allegedly dissolved to be restored of their entirety.”
France mentioned on Saturday it would assist efforts to overturn the coup, with out specifying whether or not its backing would entail army help for an ECOWAS intervention.
However 59-year-old coup chief Basic Abdourahamane Tiani, who acquired a few of his army coaching in France, mentioned the junta won’t again down.
In the meantime ECOWAS’ choices, which vary from a floor invasion to aiding a homegrown counter-coup, all danger stoking insecurity.
Mahamadou mentioned that he was involved with Bazoum, however questioned how the ousted president, who two weeks in the past was residing unhindered in a palace, was being handled.
“He’s doing effectively as a political prisoner, sequestered, with out water, with out electrical energy, can do,” he mentioned, including that ECOWAS intervention might be the one strategy to change that.
“The safety of the president is a matter that’s within the palms of ECOWAS,” he mentioned.
ECOWAS has taken a tricky stance on the takeover. Given its uranium and oil riches and pivotal position within the battle with the militants, Niger holds significance for the U.S., China, Europe and Russia.
Beneath the intervention plan, the choice of when and whereto strike might be made by heads of state, mentioned Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs, peace and safety.
He didn’t give a timeline for intervention, or say what the plan would entail.
“All the weather that can go into any eventual intervention have been labored out right here, together with the sources wanted, the how and once we are going deploy the pressure,” he mentioned on the shut of a three-day assembly in Nigeria’s capital Abuja on Friday.
ECOWAS might face resistance. Niger’s neighbors Mali and Burkina Faso, the place army juntas have additionally seized energy lately, mentioned they’d assist Niger within the occasion of army intervention.
Mahamadou shrugged off the risk from Niger’s neighbors, whose underequipped armies are struggling to comprise violent Islamist insurgencies of their very own.
“To go to Niger, they must cross the jihadist teams that they haven’t succeeded in combating. So for us, it’s an empty risk,” he mentioned.
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