The putschists in Niger are said to have agreed to negotiate with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), according to mediators.
This was announced by the head of a delegation of Islamic clerics, the Nigerian Sheik Bala Lau, on Sunday, after a meeting with Niger’s new ruler, General Abdourahmane Tchiani.
The Nigerian delegation had travelled to Niger’s capital Niamey on Saturday, amid tensions between Niger and the ECOWAS bloc of states, currently led by Nigeria.
Sheik Lau said the team discussed all issues, including ECOWAS’ demand to reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum, who was deposed in the July 26 coup.
Tchiani had assured them that the doors were open for a diplomatic and peaceful resolution of the matter. For his part, Tchiani had defended the motives behind the coup.
Niger’s new rulers have so far refused to receive official ECOWAS delegations. One delegation had to leave after a short stay at the airport, another was banned from entering the country.
ECOWAS has imposed sanctions on the country and threatened violence if the putschists do not reinstate President Bazoum.
On Thursday, ECOWAS heads of state ordered the activation of a standby force to restore constitutional order in the country. At the same time, efforts to find a peaceful solution were to remain a priority.