The leader of the Niger junta, General Abdourahmane Tchiani, has agreed to explore diplomatic dialogue to resolve the political impasse in the country.
Tchiani made the announcement on Saturday during a meeting with Nigeria’s intervention team comprising Islamic scholars led by the national chairman of Jamatul Izalatu Bida Waikamatu Sunnah, Bala Lau.
Lau said he had visited Niger to engage in constructive dialogue with Tchiani and other military leaders in an effort to encourage them to embrace dialogue instead of war to resolve the crisis.
Tchiani welcomed the intervention team and expressed his willingness to explore diplomacy and peace in resolving the matter. He also expressed sadness that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had issued ultimatums to the junta without hearing its side of the story.
The announcement of Tchiani’s willingness to dialogue comes just days after ECOWAS held an extraordinary session to discuss the situation in Niger. The bloc imposed sanctions on the junta on 30 March, including a ban on financial transactions and the closure of borders.
ECOWAS had demanded that the junta hand over power to civilians within 72 hours, but the deadline passed without any action from the military.
It is unclear when the dialogue between the junta and ECOWAS will take place, but Tchiani’s announcement is a positive sign that a peaceful resolution to the crisis may be possible.
In the background, the ECOWAS parliament held an extraordinary session yesterday to discuss the situation in Niger. The parliamentarians condemned the coup and called for the junta to restore constitutional order. They also urged ECOWAS to continue to engage with the junta in order to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.