‘We’ll restore civilian rule within 3 years’ — Niger junta tells ECOWAS


Abdourahmane Tiani, Niger Republic’s self-declared head of state, says the country will return to civilian rule within three years.


Tiani spoke late Saturday night in a televised address.


The coup leader gave no details on the plan, saying only that the principles for the transition would be decided within 30 days at a dialogue to be hosted by the junta.


“Our ambition is not to confiscate power. Transition period will not exceed three years; meanwhile, political parties are urged to submit their vision for the transition within 30 days,” Tiani said.


In his 12-minute speech, the former head of the country’s presidency guards said ECOWAS was “getting ready to attack Niger by setting up an occupying army in collaboration with a foreign army”.


Tiani denounced what he called “illegal” and “inhuman” sanctions imposed by the regional bloc.


He said the country is not looking for war but is ready to defend itself if compelled to.


 “There’s availability for any dialogue, provided that it takes into account the aspirations of the people of Niger. However, any intervention will open a Pandora’s Box and will not be the walk in the park some people seem to think,” he said.


While Niger’s coup leaders had previously rebuffed the delegation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on Saturday, Ali Lamine Zeine, the country’s prime minister, received Abdulsalami Abubakar, former Nigerian head of state; Muhammad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto; and Omar Touray, ECOWAS commission president.


After the meeting, the delegation met with toppled President Mohamed Bazoum, who has been held hostage since the July 26 military takeover.


“We met Bazoum, we heard from him what was done to him. He told us about the problems he’s facing. We’ll take it to the leaders who sent us here,” Abdulsalami had said.


 “Without doubt, the meeting has opened discussions to lead to a way to resolve this crisis.”


While ECOWAS defence chiefs said they had finalised plans to intervene in Niger, the security council maintained that the bloc still favours diplomacy.