An Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) delegation to Niger Republic led by former Nigerian Military Head of State, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) has finally met the Niger coup leaders who forced out President Mohamed Bazoum last month.
The last-ditch diplomatic effort to prevent a possible military intervention also succeeded in meeting the ousted president who has been held by the junta.
The delegation met with Prime Minister Ali Lamine Zeine who received them at the airport and led them to the presidential palace.
They also met with General Abdourahamane Tchiani, head of the junta, and his team for about 90 minutes before meeting Bazoum.
A previous effort by ECOWAS delegation also led by Abdulsalami failed.
Tchiani later apologised when some Nigerian clerics met with him, saying he could not guarantee the delegation’s safety at the time.
This comes after ECOWAS activated its standby force and said all options were on the table if “constitutional order” is not reinstated in Niger.
The sub-region’s defence chiefs met on Thursday and Friday and agreed on an undisclosed date for possible military intervention in Niger if all diplomatic efforts fail.
“We are ready to go any time the order is given. The D-day is also decided. We’ve already agreed and fine-tuned what will be required for the intervention. As we speak, we are still readying a mediation mission into the country, so we have not shut any door,” said Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security.
“All member states of ECOWAS present here today have all committed elements, they have committed their own equipment, they have committed their own resources to undertake this mission, so I tell you we are ready to go anytime the order is given.”
According to the bloc, most of its 15 member states are willing to contribute to the joint force, with the exception of countries under military rule – Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea – and Cape Verde.
After the bloc’s defence chiefs’ meeting, Burkina Faso and Mali, which had earlier warned against any military intervention in Niger, reportedly deployed war planes in the troubled nation.