Niger military administration agrees to ECOWAS dialogue mission: Official

Niger military administration agrees to ECOWAS dialogue mission: Official

Commissioner for political affairs confirms dispatch of delegation to capital Niamey

By Enoch Fiifi Forson

ACCRA, Ghana (AA) - The ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs on Saturday confirmed the dispatch of a mission to Niger's capital Niamey to engage with coup leaders, saying the military administration led by Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani agreed to hold dialogue.

"Finally, they tell us they are receiving the mission today and we have taken up their offer," Abdel-Fatau Musa told TV3 Ghana.

The move follows two ECOWAS unsuccessful missions to Niger since the removal of Mohamed Bazoum, the president who was deposed in a July 26 coup.

The first mission, led by former Nigerian head of state Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar and Sultan of Sokoto Sa’adu Abubakar, was confined to Niamey's airport, while the second mission, comprising delegates from the West African bloc, the African Union, and the UN, was denied entry.

Dr Musa expressed optimism about the new willingness for dialogue, but reiterated the 15-member group's commitment to reinstating Bazoum and restoring constitutional order.

He said discussions would be closely monitored and the military option would be contemplated if dialogue fails. "We will see how discussions unfold. If we realize that discussions are going nowhere, I can assure you that we are not going to engage in endless dialogue [or] the dialogue of the deaf," he asserted.

The official dismissed allegations that ECOWAS was leaning towards war, emphasizing that Niger's military administration, also known as the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland, was accountable for the current impasse. "We are not the ones shutting the door on them. It is rather they shut the door on us," he said.

Musa has been in Ghana since Thursday and was present at the two-day extraordinary meeting of the ECOWAS military chiefs, which concluded on Friday, with military leaders declaring readiness for potential intervention in Niger.

ECOWAS on Aug. 10 had ordered the activation of its standby force to restore constitutional order in the coup-hit country.

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