Abdulsalami Abubakar leads ECOWAS delegation to Niamey amid reports of mutiny

General Abdulsalami Abubakar with Nigerien PM Lamine Zeine

General Abdulsalami Abubakar with Nigerien PM Lamine Zeine

A delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), led by former Nigerian leader, Abdulsalami Abubakar has arrived in Niger’s capital, Niamey.

The delegation arrived a day after the bloc’s defence chiefs said they were ready to intervene to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.

Niger’s governing military council confirmed the arrival of the ECOWAS representatives, amid reports that the delegation did not stay long in the capital following unconfirmed reports of mutiny by soldiers over unpaid salaries.

The reports claimed that Niger’s military strongman, General Abdourahmane Tchiani fled the presidential palace.

According to the communication unit of the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Fatherland (CNSP), the Junta’s organ, Abubakar’s plane landed around 1:00 p.m. (12:00 GMT).

A previous ECOWAS delegation led by Abubakar earlier this month failed to meet Bazoum and the coup leader, General Abdourahamane Tchiani.

After the 26 July coup, President Bola Tinubu, who is also the ECOWAS chairman named Abubakar as special envoy to Niger.

According to a source close to ECOWAS, the delegation wishes to transmit “a message of firmness” to the soldiers in Niamey and to meet President Bazoum who is still being held prisoner.

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On Friday, the ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs, peace and security of the regional organization, Abdel-Fatau Musah announced that this mission aimed to “continue to follow the peaceful path to restore constitutional order”.

At the same time, ECOWAS had indicated that it was ready to engage in armed intervention to restore constitutional order in Niger.

“We are ready to intervene as soon as the order is given. The day of the intervention has also been fixed,” Musah said after a two-day meeting of the chiefs of staff.

Meanwhile the junta appointed Nigerien prime minister, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine said ‘nothing will happen’ to captive president.

Lamine Zeine spoke with The New York Times.

“Nothing will happen to him, because we don’t have a tradition of violence in Niger,” Zeine, the most senior civilian appointed by the military leaders, told the newspaper in an interview from Dakar on the fate of still-detained Bazoum.

Zeine also insisted the Niger coup leaders had no intention of collaborating with Russia, or with Kremlin-backed Wagner Group mercenaries.

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