Several thousand people turned up in the capital of Niger on Sunday to show their support for the military coup that took place last month. The leader of the coup has cautioned against foreign interference while advocating a three-year transfer of power.
In addition to ECOWAS, which is planning a possible military intervention to restore President Mohamed Bazoum if talks with the coup leaders fall down, the protesters yelled anti-French and anti-colonialist sentiments.
Although the Sahel state’s new military rulers have officially outlawed protests, in reality, those in favor of the coup are allowed.
In allusion to reductions in financial aid and trade restrictions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) following the July 26 coup, the protesters brandished signs reading “Stop the Military Intervention” and “No to Sanctions.”
According to AFP correspondents, artists supporting the new military rule played at the protest on Sunday.
A day after General Abdourahamane Tchiani, the new ruler of Niamey, warned that a foreign military intrusion into Niger would not be a “walk in the park,” the most recent in a series of pro-coup demonstrations took place.
Tchiani vowed a three-year restoration to civilian government in a televised speech late on Saturday that he did not want to “confiscate” authority.
The anti-coup attitude adopted by ECOWAS, which on Saturday renewed its effort for a diplomatic resolution by sending a mission to Niamey led by former Nigerian leader Abdulsalami Abubakar, has been blamed by Niger’s new authorities on France, a strong supporter of Bazoum.
Unlike a previous visit in early August, this time the delegation saw Bazoum, who is being imprisoned at the presidential palace with his family and may be charged with treason and spoke with Tchiani.
Bazoum was seen grinning and shaking hands with the group in images shown on Niger television.
In televised remarks, Abubakar declared that there was still hope and that the visit had yielded “a key for pursuing talks until an outcome for this difficult situation.”
The delegation’s arrival in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, was confirmed by an ECOWAS source on Sunday.
Tchiani said that ECOWAS was “getting ready to attack Niger by setting up an occupying army in collaboration with a foreign army” in his broadcast speech on Saturday. He did not specify which nation he was referring to.
He said, nevertheless, “If an attack were to be undertaken against us, it will not be the walk in the park some people seem to think.”
In addition, Tiani promised a 30-day “national dialogue” period during which “concrete proposals” would be developed to build the groundwork for “a new constitutional life.”
Following Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali as the other three West African countries to undergo a coup since 2020, ECOWAS chiefs claim they must now take action.
As a last measure, the bloc has decided to deploy a “standby force” to Niger in order to reestablish democracy.
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Growing jihadist insurgencies affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State organization are causing problems in the Sahel area.
Frustration with the bloodshed has been used as a justification for the military coups.
Pope Francis advocated on Sunday for a diplomatic resolution to the political situation in Niger and its possible effects on regional stability.
Francis addressed the crowd at St. Peter’s Square in Rome following the Angelus prayer, saying, “I join with prayer the efforts of the international community to find a peaceful solution as soon as possible for the good of everyone.”