Retired General Abdulsalami Abubakar, leading the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) delegation to Niger Republic, has conveyed optimism about a peaceful resolution to the recent coup, emphasizing dialogue over warfare.
Abubakar briefed reporters in Abuja on Tuesday after discussions at the Presidential Villa, presided by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the current ECOWAS Chairman.
The session also saw attendance from the ECOWAS Commission’s President, Dr Omar Touray, and the National Security Adviser, Malam Nuhu Ribadu.
Following his discussions with Niger’s deposed President, Mohamed Bazoum, and the junta’s leaders, Abubakar reported that he has passed on the stipulations of the Abdouramane Tchiani-led military regime to ECOWAS, marking the beginning of correspondence between the regional organization and Niger’s military.
He said the line of contact opened by ECOWAS through his appointment as envoy had been very fruitful, expressing hope that something concrete would soon come out of it.
Abubakar said, “As you are aware, the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government have made me an envoy to Niger Republic and we were there over the weekend to see the military people and discussed to find a way out of the lacuna we find ourselves.
“So, that’s why I’m here this afternoon, together with the President of the ECOWAS Commission, to give a report back to Mr. President on our discussions in Niger. I must say that our visit to Niger has been very fruitful and that it has opened an avenue to start talking and hopefully, we’ll get somewhere.”
Abubakar, speaking on the differences in the opinions of ECOWAS and the Niger coup leaders about a quick return to democratic rule, said, “Well, like I said, we’ve started talking, they have made their own points and then I made my report to the Chairman of the ECOWAS Heads of state and President. He will now consult with his colleagues and then we’ll get somewhere hopefully.”
Asked if there was any possibility of avoiding military action, he said “Hopefully diplomacy will see the better of this. Nobody wants to go to war, it doesn’t pay anybody, but then again, our leaders have said if all fails and I don’t think all will fail, we’ll get somewhere we’ll get out of this mess”.