US Diplomat Fails to Secure Agreement from Niger’s Military Leaders Amidst ECOWAS Ultimatum

Lagos – August 9, 2023: The second-ranking US diplomat, Victoria Nuland, has made an inconclusive attempt to persuade Niger’s military leaders to overturn a recent coup, despite the expiration of an ultimatum issued by the West African bloc, ECOWAS.

US Diplomat Fails to Secure Agreement from Niger's Military Leaders Amidst ECOWAS Ultimatum
Victoria Nuland

Nuland, who spent over two hours negotiating with the military officers responsible for the July 26 overthrow of democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum, revealed no substantial progress. The ECOWAS deadline, which expired on Sunday, threatened possible military intervention if Bazoum was not reinstated.

As tensions rise, ECOWAS plans a diplomatic summit in Abuja, Nigeria, this Thursday. Insiders suggest that immediate military action is unlikely, hinting that diplomatic dialogue remains viable.

Nuland’s discussions with the coup leaders were described as “frank” and sometimes “difficult”. While she proposed various solutions to the current impasse, the coup leaders showed little interest in her suggestions. Furthermore, her requests to meet with the self-proclaimed leader, General Abdourahamane Tiani, and the imprisoned President Bazoum were declined.

In her interactions, Nuland emphasized the importance of Niger refraining from emulating Mali by involving Russia’s Wagner mercenaries. This follows concerns over Russia’s influence on Mali’s political landscape.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed the preference for diplomatic solutions, aligning with the current ECOWAS strategy. However, regional neighbors, including Mali and Burkina Faso, have voiced their opposition to military intervention, emphasizing their stance through a show of solidarity with Niger.

Despite the tense environment, Niger’s military rulers have encouraged the return of the ECOWAS delegation for more discussions. Their initial visit was cut short, without meetings with key political figures.

The United Nations, France, and other international players continue to monitor the situation closely, ready to respond to any developments.

Meanwhile, Niger’s military rulers announced new appointments, with former finance minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine designated as prime minister.

This recent coup adds to a growing list of political upheavals in the Sahel region since 2020. With Western interests deeply rooted in the area, especially due to the ongoing jihadist insurgencies, the international community is watching Niger’s political trajectory closely.

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