Niger’s junta rejects diplomatic UN go to over ‘environment of menace’

NIAMEY, Niger (AP) — Niger’s army junta has refused the most recent diplomatic try and reinstall the ousted president, rejecting a proposed go to by representatives of the West African regional bloc, the African Union and United Nations on Tuesday, in keeping with a letter seen by The Related Press.

The letter cited “evident causes of safety on this environment of menace” towards Niger, two weeks after mutinous troopers overthrew the nation’s democratically elected chief. The regional bloc often called ECOWAS had threatened to make use of army pressure if the junta didn’t reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum by Sunday, a deadline that was ignored.

READ MORE: Niger’s residents await what’s subsequent as deadline arrives for president to be reinstated

On Monday, performing U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland met with the coup leaders and stated they refused to permit her to satisfy with Bazoum, whom she described as underneath “digital home arrest.” She described the mutinous officers as unreceptive to her appeals to start out negotiations and restore constitutional rule.

“These conversations have been extraordinarily frank and at occasions fairly troublesome as a result of, once more, we’re pushing for a negotiated answer. It was not straightforward to get traction there. They’re fairly agency of their view of how they need to proceed,” Nuland advised reporters on a name from Niamey, Niger’s capital.

ECOWAS is predicted to satisfy once more Thursday in Abuja, the capital of neighboring Nigeria, to debate the scenario. Niger’s capital appeared extra tense on Tuesday, with safety forces checking autos.

Washington’s diplomatic involvement shouldn’t be meant to undermine ECOWAS efforts, stated Rida Lyammouri, senior fellow on the Coverage Heart for the New South. “Not like ECOWAS, the U.S. has but to ship any intimidating messages regardless of publicly stating assist for the regional physique.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, talking to Radio France Worldwide on Monday, stated diplomacy is the popular manner ahead, and he couldn’t speculate about the way forward for 1,100 U.S. army personnel in Niger.

“What we’re seeing in Niger is extraordinarily troubling and offers nothing to the nation and its folks. Quite the opposite, the interruption of this constitutional order places us, and lots of different international locations, ready the place now we have to cease our support, our assist, and this won’t profit the folks of Niger,” Blinken stated.

Niger has been an important accomplice to america and different European international locations, which considered it as one of many final democratic nations within the huge Sahel area, south of the Sahara Desert, that they may accomplice with to struggle rising jihadi violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.

The U.S. has not but known as the junta’s actions a coup, which might imply Niger would stand to lose tons of of tens of millions of {dollars} in army help and different support. It additionally would imply U.S. pulling its assist for a significant drone base it in-built Niger to observe extremists, which analyst Benedict Manzin of the chance consultancy Sibylline stated the U.S. could be detest to do.

“I perceive that reticence … basically throwing away a $100 million airbase in Agadez,” Manzin stated.

READ MORE: A whole bunch of individuals in Niger rally in assist of nation’s new ruling junta

Coups have been rampant within the area lately. Neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso have had two every since 2020, and ECOWAS had little affect in stopping them. The bloc’s harsh response to Niger, by imposing financial and journey sanctions and threatening pressure, is an try to alter course. However the junta doesn’t seem open to dialogue. On Sunday, it closed the nation’s airspace and accused international powers of making ready an assault.

Analysts and diplomats say the window for army intervention is closing and with out regional assist for using pressure, ECOWAS and others are trying to find a manner out.

“Plenty of the robust discuss from the area and past is maybe extra a mirrored image of how they need that they had responded to earlier coups in Mali, Burkina and Guinea,” stated Cameron Hudson, a former official for the U.S. Central Intelligence Company.

Equally, Washington and Paris will now should make their very own laborious decisions about working with junta leaders on counterterrorism or threat ceding hard-won floor to jihadist teams and presumably Russia, he stated.

The junta, led by Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani, has been exploiting grievances among the many inhabitants towards Niger’s former colonial ruler, France. It additionally has accused Bazoum’s authorities of failing to do sufficient to guard the nation from Islamic extremists, and has requested the Russian mercenary group Wagner for assist. Wagner already operates in a handful of African international locations, together with Mali, and has been accused of committing human rights abuses.

“We’re at all times on the facet of the nice, on the facet of justice and on the facet of those that struggle for the sovereignty and the rights of their folks. Name anytime,” Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin stated in a 30-second audio assertion posted in a group-linked Telegram channel on Tuesday.

Niamey’s principally quiet streets have seen pro-junta rallies, anti-foreign rhetoric and residents waving Russian flags.

The ruling army has known as on the inhabitants to defend the nation. It’s unclear how a lot real assist there’s for the junta, however it seems to have rallied some civil society and political teams to its facet.

And since there was no army intervention towards the coup leaders, “there isn’t any actual cause for them to consider that all of the sudden this complete factor goes to return crashing down,” Manzin stated.

Boubacar Moussa, a former jihadi fighter who joined a program that encourages fighters to defect and reintegrate into society, stated that jihadis in Niger have been celebrating the chaos and better freedom of motion since international locations like France suspended army operations.

WATCH: Pentagon holds briefing as tons of rally in assist of Niger junta

A pair hundred French troopers had been conducting joint operations with the Nigerien army within the tri-border space between Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, and supplied air assist to Niger forces. However these operations at the moment are on maintain. France has some 1,500 troopers in Niger.

AP writers Dasha Litvinova in Tallinn, Estonia, and Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report.

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