Coup leader of Niger, Abdourahmane Tchiani on Saturday said that a transition of power would not go beyond three years and warned a military intervention against the junta would not be easy.
In comments made during a televised address, Tchiani said “Our ambition is not to confiscate power,” and added: “If an attack were to be undertaken against us, it will not be the walk in the park some people seem to think.”
ECOWAS delegation visits deposed president
Tchiani’s remarks came as a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met with the junta leader on Saturday, in an effort to seek peace over a military intervention in coup-hit Niger.
The delegation, led by former Nigerian President Abdulsalami Abubakar, arrived in the capital in the early afternoon.
The team then visited detained President Mohamed Bazoum in the capital Niamey, according to a Nigerian presidential spokesperson.
“After meeting head of Niger’s CNSP, General Abdoulrahmane Tchiani, the ECOWAS delegation in Niger have also visited President Mohamed Bazoum this evening,” Nigerian presidential spokesperson Abdulaziz Abdulaziz posted on messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
ECOWAS leaders say they have been compelled to act after Niger became the fourth West African nation since 2020 to experience a coup, following Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso.
Junta PM’s assurance for ousted president’s safety
Among the delegates is the bloc’s president Omar Touray, who was met at Niamey airport by the junta-appointed prime minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine.
Zeine told The New York Times that Bazoum would not come to harm.
“Nothing will happen to him, because we don’t have a tradition of violence in Niger,” the most senior civilian in the new regime told the newspaper.
The move comes a day after the bloc said that a force was on standby for military intervention should there be no peaceful resolution to the coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.
The deposed president has been under house arrest since the July 26 power grab at the hands of members of Niger’s presidential guard, headed by Abdourahmane Tchiani.
Warning that intervention could escalate situation
Meanwhile, Niger and neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, say a defensive strategy has been developed with “concrete measures,” should ECOWAS opt to “escalate a war,” Nigerien state television announced.
“We are prepared for an attack,” Burkina Faso’s defense minister, Kassoum Coulibaly, said on Saturday after a meeting of representatives of the three countries in the Nigerien capital of Niamey.
Thousands of civilian volunteers gathered in central Niamey on Saturday in response to a call to register as civilian auxiliaries who could then be mobilized to support the army.
The Sahel region is in the grip of growing jihadi insurgencies linked to al-Qaeda and the so-called “Islamic State” terror group, with frustration over the violence among the catalysts for the military takeovers.
The UN says the country is in the midst of a refugee crisis and faces a number of humanitarian challenges including food insecurity and internal displacement.