Nigeria President Suggests Nine-month Transition For Niger Junta
Niamey, Niger, Sept 1 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 1st Sep, 2023 ) :Nigerian President Bola Tinubu on Thursday floated the idea of a transition back to democracy in neighbouring Niger similar to the nine-month period his country underwent in the late 1990s.
The Economic Community of West African States has imposed sanctions on Niger after troops ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in a coup on July 26 and the bloc threatened military intervention as a last resort if talks fail to restore civilian rule.
In a statement on Thursday, the bloc insisted it wanted Bazoum back in power right away.
"The military authorities in Niger must restore constitutional order immediately by liberating and reinstating... President Mohamed Bazoum," it said.
Niger's new military leaders have dug in, saying they want a maximum three-year transition period to restore constitutional order and have ordered police to expel France's envoy as tensions build with a key partner in Niger's anti-jihadist fight.
It did not specify which regions were affected, but said the measures were "due to the current security situation".
"All activities and or movements in the zones of operations are temporarily suspended," it said.
Tinubu said Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999 after a nine-month transition period instituted by former military head of state General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who has also headed delegations to meet the Niger junta.
But Tinubu's statement said there would be no relief from sanctions imposed by ECOWAS, of which he serves as chair, until the regime made "positive adjustments".
"The soldiers' action is unacceptable.
The earlier they make positive adjustments, the quicker we will dial back the sanctions to alleviate the sufferings we are seeing in Niger," it said.
Niger's new military rulers have also been engaged in a political battle with Paris, and stripped France's ambassador of diplomatic immunity and ordered police to expel him, according to a letter seen Thursday by AFP.
The envoy "no longer enjoys the privileges and immunities attached to his status as member of the diplomatic personnel in the French embassy," according to their letter, dated Tuesday, to the foreign ministry in Paris.
Last Friday, the authorities gave French envoy Sylvain Itte 48 hours to leave the country.
France refused the demand, saying the military rulers had no legal right to make such an order.
French military spokesman Colonel Pierre Gaudilliere on Thursday warned that "the French military forces are ready to respond to any upturn in tension that could harm French diplomatic and military premises in Niger".
An organisation set up after the coup named the Patriotic Front for Niger Sovereignty (FPS) has led public demands for the coup leaders to take a hard line.
It is calling for a "massive" march next Saturday on the French base, followed by a sit-in until the troops leave.