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Niger military ruler warns vs attack

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Niamey, Niger—Niger’s new military ruler has warned any attack on the country would not be a “walk in the park,” as a delegation from West African countries made a final push to find a diplomatic solution following last month’s coup.

General Abdourahamane Tiani—who took power after army officers toppled Niger’s president Mohamed Bazoum on July 26—said in a televised address that a transition of power would not go beyond three years.

But he added: “If an attack were to be undertaken against us, it will not be the walk in the park some people seem to think.”

He spoke after a delegation from West African bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) visited Niger for a final diplomatic push before deciding whether to take military action against Niger’s new military rulers.

They met ousted president Mohamed Bazoum on Saturday, and a source close to ECOWAS told AFP he was “in good spirits”.

Bazoum remains under detention and has been held with his family at the president’s official residence since the coup, with growing international concern over his conditions.AFP

Images on Niger television showed Bazoum smiling and shaking hands with members of the delegation, led by former Nigerian leader Abdulsalami Abubakar.

Television footage also showed Abubakar speaking with Tiani, but the content of the exchange has not been made public.

In his televised address, Tiani charged that ECOWAS was “getting ready to attack Niger by setting up an occupying army in collaboration with a foreign army”, without saying which country he meant.

He also announced a 30-day period of “national dialogue” to draw up “concrete proposals” to lay the foundations of “a new constitutional life.”

ECOWAS leaders say they have to act after Niger became the fourth West African nation since 2020 to suffer a coup, following Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso.

The bloc has agreed to activate a “standby force” as a last resort to restore democracy in Niger.

ECOWAS chair and Nigerian President Bola Tinubu on Friday threatened Niamey with “grave consequences” if the new regime allowed Bazoum’s health to worsen, an EU official said.

Niger’s military-appointed prime minister, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, told The New York Times that Bazoum would not be harmed.

“Nothing will happen to him, because we don’t have a tradition of violence in Niger,” the most senior civilian in the new regime told the daily. AFP

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