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Niger: ECOWAS demands shorter transition period from junta

The Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, President Bola Tinubu, told the Ulamas during a meeting with them on Thursday that the three-year transition proposed by the military leaders was unacceptable to the regional body.

The Economic Community of West African States has demanded a shorter transition from the junta in Niger.

The Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, President Bola Tinubu, told the Ulamas during a meeting with them on Thursday that the three-year transition proposed by the military leaders was unacceptable to the regional body.

A member of the Islamic clerics who met with the President, the National Missioner, Ansar-udeen Society of Nigeria, Sheikh Abdulrahman Ahmad, disclosed this to The PUNCH in a phone interview on Saturday.

The Ulamas had held a meeting with the Niger junta in a bid to avert military intervention to restore democracy in the francophone country as planned by the ECOWAS.

During their interface, the junta leader, General Abdourahamane Tiani, had indicated an interest in holding a dialogue to resolve the political impasse resulting from the ouster of President Mohamed Bazoum in the July 26 coup.

They also asked the Ulamas to prevail on Tinubu to restore electricity which was cut off from Niger as part of sanctions imposed by ECOWAS.

Speaking to our correspondent on the outcome of their meeting with the President, Ahmad, who is the spokesperson for the Ulamas, explained that Tinubu insisted that the military leaders must give specifics of their transition programme which must also be brief.

He said, “What we did Thursday was to brief him (ECOWAS chairman) on the outcome of our visit. The reason he has asked us to go back is that he wants specifics from the junta. That was what he said; their response was too open-ended and he could not hold that. That is why he asked us to go back.

 “The President wants specifics that what he (head of the junta) had said is too general; they want to be able to hold them to a timeline and the commitment and the specifics of the short time of transition.”

On when the delegation would return to Niamey, the cleric said, “We are deliberating on when it will be convenient for members to go back and when it will be convenient for the people we are going to meet to receive us.

“We are still deliberating on when to go back, so we haven’t fixed a date yet. The point is that we have stated it time and time again, over and over, that we are not a government delegation as such.

 “The vision to intervene was a private initiative of the Ulamas and it is not a committee set up by the government. We are only trying to facilitate peaceful resolution with regard to the conflict without the need for the use of force.

“So, to that extent, we sought the permission of the President because it is not something we can do on our own, basically with another country. The President granted the permission, and then we began and of course, our President is the chairman of ECOWAS and we briefed him each time we visited the Nigerien people. But basically, it’s is about the convenience of members of the delegation, and then we will reconvene and then we go.’’

The Presidency could not be reached for comment on Sunday as Tinubu’s media adviser, Ajuri Ngelari, did not respond to calls and a text message seeking confirmation of Ahmad’s statement that Tinubu was seeking the specifics of the junta’s transition programme.

But the President during his discussion with the clerics led by Sheikh Bala Lau at the State House in Abuja, emphasized that he was at the forefront of a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

“I am managing a very serious situation. If you take ECOWAS aside, other people will react, those who are outside of our control. I am the one holding those sides back. I am the one holding back ECOWAS,” he disclosed.

Addressing the urgency of the situation, the President said: “Even as at this morning, I have been inundated with phone calls on the readiness of countries with their military force and contributions. However, I told them to wait. I am meeting with the Ulamas and I will get back to you.”

Tinubu told the Islamic delegation that the military junta must be held accountable for putting the entire people of the Niger Republic in jeopardy.

 “They cannot use the gun given to them to protect the sovereignty of the country and turn it against.

The Economic Community of West African States has demanded a shorter transition from the junta in Niger.

The Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, President Bola Tinubu, told the Ulamas during a meeting with them on Thursday that the three-year transition proposed by the military leaders was unacceptable to the regional body.

A member of the Islamic clerics who met with the President, the National Missioner, Ansar-udeen Society of Nigeria, Sheikh Abdulrahman Ahmad, disclosed this to The PUNCH in a phone interview on Saturday.

The Ulamas had held a meeting with the Niger junta in a bid to avert military intervention to restore democracy in the francophone country as planned by the ECOWAS.

During their interface, the junta leader, General Abdourahamane Tiani, had indicated an interest in holding a dialogue to resolve the political impasse resulting from the ouster of President Mohamed Bazoum in the July 26 coup.

They also asked the Ulamas to prevail on Tinubu to restore electricity which was cut off from Niger as part of sanctions imposed by ECOWAS.

Speaking to our correspondent on the outcome of their meeting with the President, Ahmad, who is the spokesperson for the Ulamas, explained that Tinubu insisted that the military leaders must give specifics of their transition programme which must also be brief.

He said, “What we did Thursday was to brief him (ECOWAS chairman) on the outcome of our visit. The reason he has asked us to go back is that he wants specifics from the junta. That was what he said; their response was too open-ended and he could not hold that. That is why he asked us to go back.

 “The President wants specifics that what he (head of the junta) had said is too general; they want to be able to hold them to a timeline and the commitment and the specifics of the short time of transition.”

On when the delegation would return to Niamey, the cleric said, “We are deliberating on when it will be convenient for members to go back and when it will be convenient for the people we are going to meet to receive us.

“We are still deliberating on when to go back, so we haven’t fixed a date yet. The point is that we have stated it time and time again, over and over, that we are not a government delegation as such.

 “The vision to intervene was a private initiative of the Ulamas and it is not a committee set up by the government. We are only trying to facilitate peaceful resolution with regard to the conflict without the need for the use of force.

“So, to that extent, we sought the permission of the President because it is not something we can do on our own, basically with another country. The President granted the permission, and then we began and of course, our President is the chairman of ECOWAS and we briefed him each time we visited the Nigerien people. But basically, it’s is about the convenience of members of the delegation, and then we will reconvene and then we go.’’

The Presidency could not be reached for comment on Sunday as Tinubu’s media adviser, Ajuri Ngelari, did not respond to calls and a text message seeking confirmation of Ahmad’s statement that Tinubu was seeking the specifics of the junta’s transition programme.

But the President during his discussion with the clerics led by Sheikh Bala Lau at the State House in Abuja, emphasized that he was at the forefront of a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

“I am managing a very serious situation. If you take ECOWAS aside, other people will react, those who are outside of our control. I am the one holding those sides back. I am the one holding back ECOWAS,” he disclosed.

Addressing the urgency of the situation, the President said: “Even as at this morning, I have been inundated with phone calls on the readiness of countries with their military force and contributions. However, I told them to wait. I am meeting with the Ulamas and I will get back to you.”

Tinubu told the Islamic delegation that the military junta must be held accountable for putting the entire people of the Niger Republic in jeopardy.

 “They cannot use the gun given to them to protect the sovereignty of the country and turn it against.

Punch Newspapers

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