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ECOWAS parliamentary committee to meet with Niger coup leaders

A parliamentary committee from a major West African bloc is set to visit Niger and meet with the country's coup leaders as part of ongoing efforts to reinstate civilian authorities.

The committee was set up by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)’s parliament on Saturday, said a spokesperson.

As a first step, the unnamed spokesperson added, the committee is to meet with Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who holds the revolving chairmanship of ECOWAS, to get his permission to go to Niger.

Niger’s military has been holding President Mohamed Bazoum since last month when he was toppled in the seventh coup to hit Africa’s Sahel region in recent years. Coup leader General Abdourahamane Tiani, who heads the country’s powerful presidential guard, has declared himself leader.

On July 30, ECOWAS gave the coup leaders a week to return the ousted president to power or face consequences, including the use of force. The deadline expired last Sunday.

The organization has activated a standby military force that, it says, would be deployed if talks fail.

ECOWAS orders immediate standby force against Niger junta

Also on Saturday, a group of Nigerian Islamic scholars led by Sheikh Abdullahi Bala Lau met with Tinubu, to get his green light for a visit to the neighboring Niger. According to a Nigerian presidential source, Tinubu granted them permission.

The religious scholars arrived in Niger the same day to meet with the military leaders, AFP quoted an unidentified source as saying. The source added that newly appointed Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine received the delegation in Niamey.

The coup leaders have not displayed total opposition to negotiations.

On Wednesday, the junta leaders met with the envoys representing Tinubu in Niger’s capital city of Niamey.

Niger junta meets with Nigerian envoys, raising hopes of dialog

Speaking on Monday, Niger’s ousted prime minister said the country’s military rulers were seeking dialogue with ECOWAS.

Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou told French broadcaster TV5 Monde that “the junta has asked the ECOWAS delegation to return,” adding, “Negotiation is still possible.”

This came after a delegation from the 15-nation bloc arrived in Niamey earlier this month. However, it did not stay overnight as scheduled, failing to meet with either the toppled president or the coup leader.

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