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Niger coup leader ready to consider diplomatic solution to standoff with ECOWAS: Mediators

Niger's coup leader is ready to consider a diplomatic solution to the existing standoff with a West African bloc that has threatened military intervention to restore Nigerien civilian rulers to power.

Sheikh Abdullahi Bala Lau, who heads a delegation of Nigerian Islamic scholars currently visiting Niger for mediation, made the remarks on Sunday.

General Abdourahamane Tiani “said their doors were open to explore diplomacy and peace in resolving the matter,” the scholar said in a statement after his delegation held talks in Niger’s capital city of Niamey.

Tiani, who heads Niger’s powerful presidential guard, has declared himself the country’s leader after overthrowing President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26.

The religious delegation obtained the permission of Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu, who heads the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), before traveling to Niger for mediation purposes.

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 body has approved the deployment of a “standby force to restore constitutional order” in Niger.

ECOWAS orders immediate standby force against Niger junta

In his Sunday statement, Lau quoted Tiani as claiming that “the coup was well intended” and was “struck to stave off an imminent threat that would have affected” Nigeria as well as Niger.

The coup leader said it was “painful” that ECOWAS had issued an ultimatum to restore Bazoum without hearing “their side of the matter,” the statement added.

Tiani also apologized for not according sufficient attention to a delegation sent by ECOWAS to Niger, which was led by former Nigerian head of state, Abdulsalami Abubakar, saying the treatment was due to anger over the ultimatum.

The new development came after it was announced on Saturday that a parliamentary committee from ECOWAS will visit Niger to meet with the coup leaders.

ECOWAS parliamentary committee to meet with Niger coup leaders

An unnamed spokesperson said the committee has been set up by ECOWAS’ parliament, and as a first step, it is to meet with the Nigerian president to get his permission before going to Niger.

Niger junta: President Bazoum will be prosecuted for ‘high treason’

Later on Sunday, Niger’s coup leaders announced in a statement that the deposed president and his accomplices will be prosecuted for “high treason” and “undermining the security” of the country.

“The Nigerien government has so far gathered… evidence to prosecute the deposed president and his local and foreign accomplices before the competent national and international bodies for high treason and undermining the internal and external security of Niger,” Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane, a junta member, said in a statement.

The statement also denounced the “illegal and humiliating sanctions” imposed on Niger by ECOWAS, which has suspended financial and commercial transactions with Niamey.

It said the people of Niger “have been hard hit by the illegal, inhumane and humiliating sanctions imposed by ECOWAS.”

The statement added that the Nigerien people are being deprived of medicines, food and electricity as a result of ECOWAS’ sanctions.

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