Niamey [Niger], August 20 (ANI): A delegation from West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS met ousted Niger President Mohamed Bazoum and also held talks with junta leader General Abdourahmane Tchiani, AL Jazeera reported on Saturday.
The delegation reached the capital Niamey at about 1pm (local time) on Saturday. The development came a day after the bloc’s military chiefs said they were ready to “intervene militarily” to reinstate Bazoum.
Niger’s governing military council confirmed the arrival of the ECOWAS representatives, headed by former Nigerian leader Abdulsalami Abubakar.
The group was allowed to meet Bazoum, the first time foreign officials have seen the ousted leader in weeks.
“We met Bazoum, we heard from him what was done to him. He told us about the problems he’s facing. We’ll take it to the leaders who sent us here,” said Abubakar.
“Without doubt, the meeting has opened discussions to lead to a way to resolve this crisis,” Al Jazeera quoted Abubakar as saying.
Notably, earlier this month, another ECOWAS delegation led by Abubakar tried and failed to meet Bazoum and the coup leader.
The West Africa representatives also met with Tchiani on Saturday, though there was no information as to what was discussed. There was no immediate comment from the military rulers. Tchiani was scheduled to address the nation in a televised address on Saturday evening, Al Jazeera reported.
ECOWAS delegates came to Niamey and joined efforts by United Nations Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel, Leonardo Santos Simao, who arrived on Friday, in trying to facilitate a resolution to the continuing crisis, as per Al Jazeera.
On Friday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Simao would meet the military rulers and other parties to try and facilitate a swift and peaceful resolution to Niger’s crisis.
“What we want to see is a return to the constitutional order. We want to see the liberation of the president and his family, and restoration of his legitimate authority,” Dujarric said.
Earlier on August 10, ECOWAS had ordered the deployment of a “standby force” to restore constitutional rule in the country.
The soldiers who overthrew democratically elected Bazoum in July have quickly entrenched themselves in power, rebuffed most dialogue efforts, and kept Bazoum, his wife and son under house arrest in the capital, Al Jazeera reported. (ANI)
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