ECOWAS rejects Niger junta’s three-year transition plan

The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, has rejected Niger junta’s three-year power transition plan.

ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, told the BBC on Sunday : “ECOWAS is not accepting any prolonged transition again in the region. They just have to get ready to hand over in the shortest possible time”.

The head of the military junta in Niger Republic, Gen.Abdourahamane Tiani had on Saturday said he would relinquish power within three years and warned that any intervention by foreign forces would not be “a walk in the park”.

In a televised address broadcast by Tele Sahel, Tiani said the junta’s ambition is not to confiscate power.

He added that the transition period will not exceed three years; meanwhile, political parties in the country were 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 box and will not be a walk in the park”, he further said.

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.

“The earlier they give power back to civilians and concentrate on their primary responsibility that is defending the territorial integrity of Niger, the better for them”, the Commissioner threatened.

Meanwhile, pro-junta protesters on Sunday took to the streets of Niamey to restate their support for the military takeover of power in Niger Republic.

The demonstrators chanted slogans hostile to former colonial power France and West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, which is considering a potential military operation to reinstate the 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.

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