The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will not engage in prolonged negotiations with Niger’s new military government, the bloc’s commissioner for political affairs, peace, and security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, said on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
Musah made the comment while reiterating the 15-nation bloc’s rejection of a proposal by the Nigerien coup leaders to transition to civilian rule within three years following their overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum last month.
“We are not going to engage in long, drawn out haggling with these military officers. We went down that route in Mali, in Burkina Faso and elsewhere, and we are getting nowhere,” he told AP.
The West African regional bloc has imposed sanctions on the coup plotters to pressure them to release Bazoum and his family, who have been under house arrest since July 26, and restore constitutional order.
Niger’s military ruler, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, announced last Saturday after meeting with an ECOWAS delegation that the principles of the transition to democratic rule would be decided within 30 days, with the process itself taking no more than three years.
Speaking to AP, Musah described Tchiani’s proposed timeline as a “provocative” move, adding that while direct and indirect talks are ongoing, the door to diplomacy is not open “indefinitely.”
“It is the belief among the ECOWAS heads of state and also the commission that the coup in Niger is one coup too many for the region and if we allow it then we are going to have a domino effect in the region and we are determined to stop it,” the official said.
The bloc said last week that it was ready to send troops into Niger to free Bazoum and restore his rule if diplomatic efforts failed.
Niger’s military rulers have condemned the regional authority’s sanctions and threats to use force against them, accusing it of acting at the behest of foreign powers.
Musah, on the other hand, has denied the allegations, claiming that the ECOWAS plan for military intervention was based solely on the resources of member states and that no external partners were involved.