Coup: AU gives Niger military junta 15 days to return Bouzam to power

The African Union has issued a 15-day ultimatum to the junta in Niger to reinstall the country’s democratically elected government.


The ultimatum coincided with a meeting the coup leaders had with senior civil servants to discuss how they would run the country and as the U.S. and the European Union threatened sanctions against the regime, reports The Nation.


Brig-Gen. Mohamed Toumba, one of the soldiers who ousted President Mohamed Bazoum on Wednesday, told state television that the junta met with civil servants on Friday and asked them to continue their work as usual, following the suspension of the constitution.


“The message given was not to stop the processes underway, to keep on with things,” said Brig. Gen. Toumba.


“Everything that must be done will be done,” he said, signaling the intention of the regime led by Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, who also goes by Omar, to remain in power.


After its meeting on Friday, the African Union Peace and Security Council said it was concerned by the “alarming resurgence” of coups that undermine democracy and stability on the continent.


It asked the soldiers to “return immediately and unconditionally to their barracks and restore constitutional authority within a maximum of fifteen (15) days.”


Bazoum, whose condition and that of his officials remains unknown since the government was overthrown, should also be released immediately and unconditionally, the AU said.


Failure to do so, it said, would compel the bloc to take “necessary action, including punitive measures against the perpetrators.”


On the streets of the Nigerien capital Niamey on Saturday, things appeared to be returning to normal, though many in the international community were still on lockdown with hotels full of foreigners, many given instructions not to leave.


Locals say they’re waiting to see what unfolds, with many still in support of Bazoum who has not yet resigned.


“I’m with him, he does a good work. (But) what can we do?” said Mohamed Cisse, a street seller. “This is (the new leader’s) time, Bazoum’s time is over,” he said.


Tchiani, the junta leader and commander of Niger’s presidential guard, is close to former Nigerien president Mahamadou Issoufou, who stepped down in 2021 after a decade in office.


Tchiani’s takeover of power will reinforce speculation that Issoufou is behind the coup, said Ulf Laessing, head of the Sahel program at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a German think tank and consultancy.


President Bola Tinubu is billed to hold a special meeting of the authority of heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja today.


A statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Special Duties Communication and Strategy, Mr Dele Alake, on Friday said the special meeting had been called to deliberate on the situation in Niger Republic.


President Tinubu is the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS Commission.


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