© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Common Abdourahmane Tiani, who was declared as the brand new head of state of Niger by leaders of a coup, arrives to satisfy with ministers in Niamey, Niger July 28, 2023. REUTERS/Balima Boureima/File Picture
By Boureima Balima and Abdel-Kader Mazou
NIAMEY (Reuters) -Niger’s army junta met with two Nigerian envoys on Wednesday, providing hope for dialogue earlier than a summit with regional leaders that would end in army motion to revive democracy.
The talks occurred as Niger accused France of violating its airspace, attacking a army camp and releasing “terrorists” to undermine the nation. Paris denied the fees.
Military officer Amadou Abdramane, talking for the coup leaders, made the allegations in a video assertion with out offering proof, stoking pressure forward of Thursday’s assembly of West African heads of state, who’re anticipated to debate choices together with army motion in opposition to the junta.
“What we’re seeing is a plan to destabilise our nation,” Abdramane stated.
France’s international ministry rejected the accusations, saying its plane was working beneath an current settlement with Niger forces and its troops had been within the west African nation on the request of authentic authorities.
Throughout its standoff, the junta has rebuffed diplomatic overtures from African, U.S. and U.N. envoys. The junta leaders made an exception by assembly on Wednesday with two envoys of Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who additionally chairs the Financial Group of West African States (ECOWAS), within the capital Niamey, a Nigerian authorities supply stated.
The envoys – distinguished conventional leaders Lamido Muhammad Sanusi and Abdullsalami Abubarkar – had been allowed into the nation regardless of closed borders.
Solely Sanusi met junta chief Common Abdourahamane Tiani, whereas his counterpart met with different representatives on the airport.
“It went properly,” Sanusi instructed reporters upon his return to Abuja with out sharing additional particulars.
The celebration of Niger’s deposed president, Mohamed Bazoum, accused the junta, which seized energy on July 26, of holding him and his household in “merciless” and “inhumane” detention on the presidential residence.
In a press release calling for a nationwide mobilisation to save lots of them, the PNDS-Tarayya celebration on Wednesday stated the Bazoums had no operating water, no electrical energy and no entry to contemporary items or medical doctors.
State Division spokesperson Matthew Miller stated the U.S. was drastically apprehensive about Bazoum’s security and was nonetheless searching for a reversal of the army takeover.
“We proceed to have interaction with our companions within the area. We proceed to have interaction with different governments,” he instructed a briefing.
U.S. troops are in Niger together with French, Italian and German forces as a part of worldwide efforts to fight Islamist insurgents devastating the Sahel area beneath agreements with the now-deposed civilian authorities.
Rhetoric in opposition to former colonial energy France has been a function of coups within the area over the previous two years, together with in Mali and Burkina Faso, whose military rulers are strongly backing the generals now in cost in Niamey.
The junta has revoked army pacts with France, however Paris has rejected that call, saying it was not taken by Niger’s authentic authorities.
The coup was triggered by inner politics however spun into a world drama. ECOWAS, the United Nations and Western international locations have pressured the junta to face down, whereas Mali and Burkina Faso have vowed to defend it.
The political scene grew to become extra complicated on Wednesday as former insurgent Rhissa Ag Boula introduced a brand new Council of Resistance for the Republic (CRR) aimed toward reinstating Bazoum.
“Niger is the sufferer of a tragedy orchestrated by folks charged with defending it,” Ag Boula’s assertion stated. The CRR would use “any means mandatory” to cease the army takeover and helps worldwide diplomacy, he stated.
The problem from Ag Boula raises the spectre of inner battle in Niger, which till the coup was an necessary ally for the West in a area the place different international locations have turned in the direction of Russia.
Western powers concern Russian affect may develop stronger if the junta in Niger follows Mali’s instance by ejecting Western troops and welcoming in mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group.
Ag Boula performed a number one position in uprisings by Tuaregs, a nomadic ethnic group in Niger’s desert north, within the Nineteen Nineties and 2000s. Like many former rebels, he was built-in into authorities beneath Bazoum and his predecessor, Mahamadou Issoufou.
The coup’s border and airspace closures have reduce off provides and hampered help. The takeover has additionally prompted international monetary sanctions in opposition to one of many world’s poorest international locations.