Several thousand people demonstrated on Sunday morning in Niamey in support of the military regime which announced the day before that it was considering a transition of up to three years, while the threat of a West African military intervention still looms over Niger.
As during each demonstration favorable to the new regime, numerous slogans hostile to France and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) were chanted or displayed on placards, noted AFP journalists .
“No to sanctions”, “stop military intervention”, we could read in particular on the Place de la Concertation in Niamey.
This demonstration comes the day after a televised speech by Niger’s new strongman, General Abdourahamane Tiani, who overthrew elected President Mohamed Bazoum in a coup on July 26.
In this speech, he outlined an initial transition timetable.
Announcing the launch of a national dialogue, he specified that the duration of the transition would not exceed “three years”.
Earlier in the day, he met an ECOWAS delegation led by former Nigerian President Abdulsalami Abubakar, who came to negotiate a way out of the crisis.
Unlike a previous West African mediation, at the beginning of August, this time the emissaries were able to speak with General Tiani but also meet Mohamed Bazoum, held prisoner since the coup d’état.
The latter appeared on Nigerian television images smiling during this meeting.
“There is hope, no doubt”, declared Mr. Abubakar, believing that the visit of the delegation made it possible to “ find a key to continue the talks until the outcome of this difficult affair.”
” Assault “
But the end of the crisis is still far from being achieved because ECOWAS demands the reinstatement of Mr. Bazoum in his functions and his immediate release.
However, in his speech on Saturday evening, General Tiani did not mention the deposed president once.
The West African organization, which has taken heavy economic sanctions against Niger since July 30, threatens to use force if it does not win its case.
Friday evening, after a meeting of her chiefs of staff, she even indicated that the “day of intervention has been fixed”just like the ” strategic targets “the necessary equipment and “the commitment of the Member States”. However, no timetable has been revealed.
A threat taken seriously by General Tiani who warned on Saturday evening that Niger would not sit idly by in the event of intervention. “If an attack were to be undertaken against us, it will not be the walk in the park that some people believe in”he said, assuring that ECOWAS wanted to put “set up an army of occupation in collaboration with a foreign army”without naming any country.
Sunday at the Vatican, Pope Francis called for a “peaceful solution as soon as possible”, saying to join “to the call of the bishops in favor of peace in the country and stability in the Sahel”.
The day before, Algeria, which shares a long border with Niger, had done the same. “Before the irreparable is committed, and before the region is caught in the spiral of violence, the incalculable consequences of which no one can predict, Algeria calls on all parties to exercise restraint, wisdom and the reason “, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Niger has been fighting for several years against jihadist groups in various parts of its territory.
One of its traditional allies, the United States, which deploys some 1,100 soldiers, announced the arrival of a new ambassador. Kathleen FitzGibbon will not, however, officially present her mission letter to the new authorities, said Washington, who does not recognize them.
The bloody attacks by jihadist groups have not weakened. On Tuesday, at least 17 soldiers were killed in an attack near Burkina Faso, the deadliest since the coup.
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