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West Africa: Niger – Junta-Installed PM Zeine Visits Chad, ‘Open’ to Talks

Niger’s junta-installed premier has passed on a message of “fraternity” to Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Deby. ECOWAS and Germany condemned treason charges against ousted President Bazoum.

Niger’s military-appointed prime minister, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, visited neighboring Chad on Tuesday.

During his visit he spoke with Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Deby, who took power in Chad contrary to measures outlined in the constitution following the death of his father, the former president.

Chad has been under military rule since April 2021.

The visit had not been announced in advance.

What did Zeine say about the visit?

Chad’s government said that Zeine had arrived for a “working visit.”

Zeine said he handed Deby a message of “good neighborliness and good fraternity” from the head of Niger’s junta.

“We are in a process of transition, we discussed the ins and outs and reiterated our availability to remain open and talk with all parties, but insist on our country’s independence,” the junta-appointed premier said.

Deby visited Nigerien capital Niamey on July 30, four days after Niger’s coup.

One photo from the visit showed the Chadian president next to detained Nigerien counterpart Mohamed Bazoum, while another showed him with one of the junta’s leaders, General Salifou Mody.

Zeine served as finance minister in the early 2000s.

He was appointed by coup leaders who ousted Niger’s elected president on July 26, Mohammed Bazoum.

ECOWAS to continue mulling intervention

The visit comes as military chiefs from the West African bloc ECOWAS prepare to meet in Ghana on Thursday and Friday to discuss possible intervention in Niger in order to restore Bazoum’s government.

ECOWAS had approved deployment for a “standby force to restore constitutional order” in Niger.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged for the crisis to be resolved through diplomacy.

“I believe that there continues to be space for diplomacy in achieving that result,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters.

“The pressure that’s been exerted by many countries including through ECOWAS on the military leaders responsible for disrupting the constitutional order in Niger is mounting,” he said.

“I think they have to take that into account, as well as the fact that their actions have isolated them from the region and the world.”

Similarly, the Kremlin said on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a “peaceful political and diplomatic” solution to the Niger crisis in a phone call with Mali’s junta leader, Asssimi Goita.

Bazoum’s PNDS party rejects treason accusations

Bazoum’s party, the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS), denounced the accusations against the ousted president brought against him by the junta.

Niger’s coup leaders have announced that Bazoum is to be tried for high treason.

The party said that the allegations were childish and grotesque and they have no basis in facts.

The PNDS called for “all democrats” in Niger to demonstrate.

The ECOWAS bloc called the announcement a “new form of provocation” on the part of the junta.

German Development Minister Svenja Schulze also criticized the charges against Bazoum.

“We are all very concerned about what this announcement means for President Bazoum and his family,” she told media group Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.

“We would like to see a peaceful path back to democracy. And that includes finding a fair solution for the president and his family.”

 (AFP, dpa)

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