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Wed, Aug 9, 2023 7:50 AM

Niger Junta Rejects Diplomatic Mission, ECOWAS Prepares for Summit

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Niger Junta Rejects Diplomatic Mission, ECOWAS Prepares for Summit
Niger's junta has rejected a diplomatic mission from West African countries aimed at restoring constitutional order after a coup. Meanwhile, ECOWAS is preparing for a summit to discuss their standoff with the junta and consider a possible military action plan. President Bola Tinubu has instructed the Central Bank of Nigeria to impose additional financial sanctions on Niger Republic.

ABUJA WITH AGENCY REPORT - Niger's junta on Tuesday rejected the latest diplomatic mission from West African countries aimed at restoring constitutional order after a July 26 coup, resisting pressure from the United States and the United Nations to come to the negotiating table.

Heads of state from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are preparing for a summit on Thursday to discuss their standoff with the junta, which defied an August 6 deadline to reinstate ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.

ECOWAS defense chiefs agreed on Friday on a possible military action plan, which heads of state are expected to consider at their summit in Abuja.

The junta denied permission to enter Niger to a joint delegation from ECOWAS, the African Union (AU), and the UN, according to a letter circulated on social media whose authenticity was confirmed by a Niger army spokesman.

The letter said popular anger among Niger's citizens over sanctions imposed by ECOWAS in response to the coup made it impossible to host the envoys safely and denounced "a climate of threatened aggression against Niger".

An AU spokesperson confirmed that a mission had been denied access, while ECOWAS declined to comment.

The junta had already snubbed meetings with a senior U.S. envoy and another ECOWAS delegation.

Under Bazoum, Niger was relatively successful in containing an Islamist insurgency devastating the Sahel region and was an important ally for the West after two of its neighbors rejected former colonial power France and turned towards Russia instead.

Niger is the world's seventh-biggest producer of uranium, the most widely used fuel for nuclear energy, adding to its strategic importance.

The United Nations said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly supported mediation efforts by ECOWAS, while U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told French radio station RFI diplomacy was the best way to resolve the situation.

He declined to comment on the future of some 1,100 U.S. troops in Niger, where French, German, and Italian troops are also stationed.

Blinken later told the BBC he was worried that Russia's Wagner mercenaries were taking advantage of the instability in Niger to strengthen their presence in the Sahel.

"I think what happened and what continues to happen in Niger was not instigated by Russia or by Wagner, but ... they tried to take advantage of it," he was quoted as saying by the BBC.

Tinubu Orders CBN To Tighten Financial Sanctions Against Niger Republic

Meanwhile, following the deadline given by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum, President Bola Tinubu has instructed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to impose extra financial sanctions on Niger Republic.

Tinubu also directed the CBN to extend such sanctions to senior government officials of Niger who have refused to heed the demand by ECOWAS.

Recall that Bazoum was overthrown and detained by senior military officers in the country about two weeks ago, to the chagrin of ECOWAS leaders who have threatened a possible military action against the coupists if democratic governance is not returned.

Tinubu's spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, announced the latest sanction by Nigeria, which currently chairs the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government.

Addressing State House correspondents in Abuja, Ngelale said, "following the expiration of the deadline of the ultimatum and standing on the pre-existing consensus position of financial sanctions meted out on the military junta in Niger Republic by the bloc of ECOWAS Heads of State, His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has ordered an additional slew of financial sanctions through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on entities and individuals related to or involved with the military junta in Niger Republic".

He also debunked attempts by section of the media to personalize the angst and sanctions against the military in Niger Republic, stressing that whatever action Nigeria has taken or takes falls under ECOWAS protocols and decisions, and not by unilateral fiat of Tinubu.

According to Ngelale, "This is not an individual action taken by an individual president on behalf of individual nation. This is an action taken by ECOWAS chairman who is the president of Nigeria, but standing on the authority provided by the consensus resolution of all ECOWAS members and heads of states with regard to financial sanctions being levied by ECOWAS member states against the military junta in Niger Republic.

"There is an authority that we are standing on. It is not Nigerian government authority, it is the authority of the resolution passed in public before now.

"This is the context, the nuance, and the detail that is required in our reports, lest our people be misinformed; and we begin to be framed internationally as being in a situation where it's Nigeria versus its neighbor, Niger because that's the narrative that some certain international perspectives would like to advance for their own interest."

He stressed that "the ECOWAS mandate and ultimatum are not a Nigerian ultimatum. It is not a Nigerian mandate and the Office of His Excellency President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, also serving as the chairman of ECOWAS seeks to emphasize this point."

Ngelale further noted that Tinubu in recent days, particularly following the expiration of the ultimatum given by ECOWAS, has widened consultations internationally but most especially domestically, including interfaces with state governors in Nigeria, who govern states bordering Niger Republic on the various fallouts and outcomes of the situation in Niger Republic.

He also affirmed that Nigeria will be hosting an extraordinary summit of the ECOWAS leaders tomorrow to discuss the next line of action after the deadline given to the military in Niger Republic expired last Sunday.

Source of content: OOO News 2023-08-09 News

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