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“We’ll Hand Over In Three Years” – Niger Republic Junta Leader, General Tchiani Shuns ECOWAS’ Dialogue

Leader of the Niger Republic junta, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, has said that the army would hand over power to a civilian government within the next three years.

Tchiani who stated this in a nationwide address on national television on Saturday night also said that in one month’s time, the junta would form a committee to begin to work on a new constitution of the country.

Information Nigeria understands that the speech was made shortly after meeting with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) delegation led by former Nigerian Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar.

As of the time Tchiani addressed Nigeriens, the ECOWAS delegation was still in Niamey.

According to Tchiani, while Niger does not want to go to war and the military leaders’ door is open for discussions, they will defend themselves if the need arises.

“Our ambition is not to confiscate power,” said Tchiani during the address, specifying that the duration of the transition “cannot go beyond three years.”

“If an attack were to be undertaken against us, it will not be the walkover some people believe in,” he added.

In the 12 minute speech, Tchiani announced the launch of a “national dialogue” which will last thirty days.

The dialogue will lead to the formulation of “concrete proposals” with a view to laying “the foundations of a new constitutional order.”

“ECOWAS is preparing to attack Niger by setting up an occupying army in collaboration with a foreign army”, Tchiani said without citing a country.

He also denounced the “illegal” and “inhuman” sanctions of the West African economic bloc.

Earlier yesterday, Abdulsalami had told journalists that the ECOWAS delegation’s meeting with the junta went well and had opened a door for further talks.

The meeting was a last-ditch diplomatic effort to reach a peaceful solution with the military rulers who overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26.

The delegation met with Prime Minister Ali Lamine Zeine who received them at the airport.

Members of the delegation also met with the head of the junta, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, for about 90 minutes and later with ousted President Bazoum.

Abdulsalami did not go into details of the discussion with the detained president.

“We met him (Bazoum) and heard his side of the story. He told us what was done to him and the challenges he is facing. We will communicate this to ECOWAS leaders. Doors for talks are now open for a lasting solution.”

Recall weeks ago, Bazoum was quoted in a series of text messages to a friend as saying that he had been “deprived of all human contact” , with no one supplying him food or medicine.

Bazoum had also said he had been living without electricity, a similar situation for all Nigeriens after Nigeria cut off electric power in response to the coup.

The overthrown president said all of the perishable food he was supplied with had since gone bad, and he was now eating dry pasta and rice.

The junta had, last week, granted Bazoum access to his doctor.

Meanwhile, a senior envoy of the United Nations on Saturday arrived Niamey for further talks with the military rulers.

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