The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a peaceful resolution to the Niger crisis in a telephone call with Mali’s junta leader, Assimi Goita.
Military chiefs from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will meet in Ghana on Thursday and Friday to discuss a possible military invasion in Niger, regional military and political sources confirmed on Tuesday.
The meeting, originally scheduled for Saturday but then postponed, came after ECOWAS leaders last week approved the deployment of a “standby force to restore constitutional order” in Niger and reinstate Western-backed ousted president Mohamed Bazoum who was toppled on July 26 in a coup staged by military leaders.
On July 30, ECOWAS gave Niger’s military rulers a one-week ultimatum on July 30 to restore Bazoum or face the potential use of force, but the deadline expired without action.
However, Niger was subjected to sanctions by the West African body and a near-total air and land embargo on shared borders, which hindered the nation’s access to medicines, food, and electricity.
At the weekend, the coup leaders said they were open to a diplomatic push after their chief, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, met with Nigerian religious mediators.
Those talks came after the ECOWAS military meeting in Ghana was postponed for “technical reasons”.
But on Sunday night, Niger’s rulers declared they had gathered sufficient evidence to prosecute Bazoum for “high treason and undermining internal and external security.”
The legal threat was angrily condemned by ECOWAS, which lashed it as a contradiction of the coup leaders’ “reported willingness” to explore peaceful means.
The row overshadowed talks under African Union (AU) auspices that began on Monday in Addis Ababa, bringing together representatives from the new Nigerien leadership and ECOWAS.
Putin urges peaceful resolution in Niger during call with Mali junta leader
In a related context, the Kremlin announced on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a peaceful resolution to the Niger crisis in a telephone call with Mali’s junta leader, Assimi Goita.
“The importance of resolving the situation with regard to the Republic of Niger exclusively by peaceful political and diplomatic means was emphasized,” the Kremlin said.
It is noteworthy that the military governments of Mali and Burkina Faso have previously warned that any military attack against Niger would be considered a declaration of war against them.