After meeting with a team of West African officials, the leader of the coup in Niger has offered a three-year handover of power and issued a warning that any attack on the nation would “not be a walk in the park” for those involved.
General Abdourahmane Tchiani said on national television late on Saturday that the guiding principles for the transfer would be settled upon within 30 days at a meeting that the ruling military council would convene. He did not provide any other information about the probable transition.
Following the coup on July 26, ECOWAS imposed harsh sanctions on Niger and commanded the deployment of a “standby force” to reinstate the country’s constitutional government. The group announced on Friday that 11 of its 15 members had committed to send troops to the operation on an unspecified “D-Day” for a potential military involvement.
Tchiani’s 12-minute address was filled with accusations that the regional group ECOWAS was “getting ready to attack Niger by setting up an occupying army in collaboration with a foreign army” and criticized the “illegal” and “inhuman” sanctions that had been put in place by the organization.
“I reaffirm here that our ambition is not to confiscate power. I also reaffirm our readiness to engage in any dialogue, as long as it takes into account the orientations desired by the proud and resilient people of Niger,” he added.
The region’s sixth coup in three years, which occurred in Niger on July 26, has drawn a stronger response from ECOWAS than it did from earlier coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea.
Despite threatening military action, the bloc is also looking for diplomatic solutions to stop the takeover of power in Niger, a nation with strategic value for regional and international powers due to its oil and uranium reserves as well as its function as a base for foreign troops engaged in the conflict against armed organizations associated with al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS).