The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has rejected the Niger junta’s three-year power transition plan.
The ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, stated this during an interview with the BBC on Sunday.
It was reported that the head of the military junta in the Niger Republic, Gen.Abdourahamane Tiani, said on Saturday that he would relinquish power within three years and warned that any intervention by foreign forces would not be “a walk in the park.”
He stated in a televised address broadcast by Tele Sahel, “Our ambition is not to confiscate power. The transition period will not exceed three years; meanwhile, political parties are urged to submit their vision for the transition within 30 days.
“There’s availability for any dialogue, provided that it takes into account the aspirations of the people of Niger. However, any intervention will open Pandora’s box and will not be a walk in the park.”
His warning followed the arrival of an ECOWAS delegation in the country for a final diplomatic push before deciding on military intervention against the junta.
But in the BBC interview, Musah said that Tchiani’s proposal was just a smokescreen for dialogue and diplomacy.
He said, “ECOWAS is not accepting any prolonged transition again in the region. They just have to get ready to hand it over in the shortest possible time.”
He added that the “military aspect is very much on.”
“The earlier they give power back to civilians and concentrate on their primary responsibility, which is defending the territorial integrity of Niger, the better for them.”
Meanwhile, pro-junta protesters took to the streets of Niamey on Sunday to restate their support for the military takeover of power in the Niger Republic.
According to AFP, the demonstrators chanted slogans hostile to former colonial power France and the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, which is considering a potential military operation to reinstate elected president Mohamed Bazoum if ongoing negotiations with coup leaders fail.
Although the Sahel state’s new military leaders have officially banned protests, in practice, those in support of the coup are allowed to go ahead.
The demonstrators waved placards saying “Stop the military intervention” and “No to sanctions”, in reference to the financial and trade restrictions imposed by ECOWAS four days after the coup on July 26.
Sunday’s pro-coup rally had musicians praising the new military regime, AFP reports.