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Niger’s General Tchiani Agrees to Talks with ECOWAS Leaders

Aug. 14, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—Following a several-hour Aug. 12 meeting in Niamey, between Nigerien coup leader Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani and a group of Nigerian Islamic scholars, led by Sheikh Abdullahi Bala Lau, Sheikh Bala Lau reported Aug. 13 that General Tchiani is willing to hold direct talks with ECOWAS leaders, according to Al Jazeera Aug. 13.

Al Jazeera quoted Sheikh Lau saying that Tchiani has “accepted to have fully direct discussions with the leaders of ECOWAS. So, we want them to select a place to meet. Do they intend to meet there in Niger, in Nigeria, or where else [do] they think is better for them?” A time and place for the talks is to be determined “in the coming days.”

Sheikh Bala Lau’s mission to Niamey was reportedly approved by ECOWAS chairman and Nigerian President Bola Tinubu. Lau reported that General Tchiani “claimed the coup was well intended” and that it was carried out to “stave off an imminent threat that would have affected” Nigeria as well as Niger. But he added that it was “painful” that “ECOWAS had issued an ultimatum to restore Bazoum without hearing “their side of the matter.”

While this news was cautiously welcomed by the State Department and other Western governments, that was not the case with statements made last night to state television by junta spokesman Gen. Amadou Abdramane, that the junta intends to prosecute deposed President Mohamed Bazoum for high treason and “undermining state security.” Abdramane said that sufficient evidence had been gathered to prosecute Bazoum and his “local and foreign accomplices” before “competent national and international authorities.”

The treason accusation is said to be based on Bazoum’s post-coup exchanges with high-ranking West African politicians and their “international mentors,” whom the junta charges with making false allegations and attempting to derail a peaceful transition in order to justify a military intervention into Niger. No foreign nations were named, nor a date set for Bazoum’s trial. AP reports that before the announcement about Bazoum’s prosecution, a member of the junta’s communications team had told journalists that the junta had approved talks with ECOWAS.

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