ECOWAS commissioner Abdel-Fatau Musah (C) speaks during a presser following the Extraordinary Meeting of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of the Defence Staff, on Aug. 18, 2023.

ECOWAS slams ‘unacceptable’ Niger transition plan

By Rédaction Africanews and AP – AFP

The West African bloc ECOWAS rejected the proposal by Niger’s mutinous soldiers for a three-year transition to democratic rule.

Speaking to Al Jazeera earlier this week, the bloc’s commissioner for peace and security said it was ‘unacceptable.’

The door for diplomacy with Niger’s junta remained open but the bloc is not going to engage in drawn-out talks that lead nowhere, Abdel-Fatau Musah, the ECOWAS commissioner for peace and security, told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday.

“It is the belief among the ECOWAS heads of state and also the commission that the coup in Niger is one coup too many for the region and if we allow it then we are going to have a domino effect in the region and we are determined to stop it,” Musah said. While direct talks and backchannel negotiations are ongoing, he said the door to diplomacy wasn’t open indefinitely.

“We are not going to engage in long, drawn out haggling with these military officers … We went down that route in Mali, in Burkina Faso and elsewhere, and we are getting nowhere,” Musah said.

His comments came days after an ECOWAS delegation met the head of Niger’s military regime, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, for the first time since the mutinous soldiers ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in July.

After last week’s meeting, Musah said the ball is now in the junta’s court.

Coups and sanctions

The junta has been keeping Bazoum and his wife and son under house arrest, and ECOWAS has demanded Bazoum be freed and constitutional order restored.

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