Diplomacy is the ‘best way forward’ in Niger, military force still on table – Tinubu

Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and President of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has not ruled out military intervention in Niger, but believes diplomacy is the “best way forward” to resolve the crisis, his spokesman said Tuesday.

Bola Tinubu spoke for the first time since the soldiers behind the coup in Niger defied ECOWAS’ Sunday deadline to reinstate elected president Mohamed Bazoum or face the possible use of force.

Meanwhile, efforts by ECOWAS and the United States to negotiate with Niger’s new rulers have made no headway ahead of a crisis summit in the Nigerian capital Abuja on Thursday.

“No options have been taken off of the table,” Tinubu’s spokesman Ajuri Ngelale said but West African leaders favour diplomacy.

The United States said it still held out hope for reversing the coup but was “realistic” it is hard to achieve now.

“We do have hope that the situation will be reversed but at the same time, we are making clear, including in direct conversations with junta leaders themselves, what the consequences are for failing to return to constitutional order,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

ECOWAS — the Economic Community of West African States — slapped trade and financial sanctions on Niger after rebel soldiers toppled Bazoum.

The bloc also gave Niger a seven-day ultimatum to reinstate Bazoum or face potential use of force, but the coup leaders defied the warning.

On Monday, the soldiers who seized power in Niamey on July 26 blocked a mission by ECOWAS in the runup to the summit.

In a letter, the coup leaders said that public “anger” triggered by ECOWAS sanctions meant the delegation’s safety could be at risk.

ECOWAS countries have suffered series of coups – Since 2020 four of its 15 members have had coups.

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