Niger’s military junta has declined a recent diplomatic overture by regional and international officials aimed at reinstating the ousted president. Niger’s junta dismissed a proposed visit by representatives from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS the African Union and the United Nations. The refusal comes amid heightened security concerns following the recent overthrow of Niger’s democratically elected leader by mutinous soldiers.
The letter referenced “evident reasons of security in this atmosphere of menace,” underlining the junta’s apprehensions regarding the situation. The junta had been given a Sunday deadline by ECOWAS to reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum, which passed without compliance.
Acting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland’s attempt to meet with the coup leaders faced similar resistance. Nuland revealed that she was denied access to President Bazoum, who she described as being under “virtual house arrest.” She also expressed difficulty in persuading the mutinous officers to engage in negotiations and restore constitutional rule.
With tensions escalating, ECOWAS is slated to convene again in Abuja, Nigeria, on Thursday to address the unfolding crisis. Security measures have increased in Niger’s capital, Niamey, with thorough vehicle checks conducted by security forces.
U.S. Secretary of State Stresses Diplomacy and Concerns
Despite U.S. diplomatic engagement, Rida Lyammouri, Senior Fellow at the Policy Center for the New South, noted that Washington’s approach is not intended to undermine ECOWAS efforts. Unlike some strong messages from ECOWAS, the U.S. has maintained a less confrontational stance.
Speaking to Radio France International, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized diplomacy as the preferred path forward. He expressed concern over the situation in Niger. Highlighting the negative impact of the constitutional disruption on the country and its people. He also acknowledged the potential implications of the presence of 1,100 U.S. military personnel in Niger.
Blinken stressed that the crisis was deeply troubling and counterproductive. Moreover, this potentially leads to aid and support being withheld from Niger. The impasse continues to raise significant challenges for both Niger’s internal stability and its international relationships.