* Says meeting with junta a success
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
Former Head of State and Special Envoy of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to Niger Republic, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, has expressed optimism that the crisis in the country is not likely to deteriorate beyond diplomacy.
Abubakar gave this assurance Tuesday while speaking with newsmen at the State House, Abuja, after meeting with President Bola Tinubu, who is the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS.
Asked if there was any possibility of avoiding a military action in the country, he said: “Hopefully, diplomacy will see the better of this. Nobody wants to go 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.”
General Abubakar, who had last weekend held a meeting with the ousted President of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, and the leaders of the junta in the country, said he had delivered the terms of the Abdouramane Tchiani-led junta to ECOWAS.
According to him, correspondences had opened between the West African regional bloc and the military in Niger, noting that the line of contact opened by ECOWAS through his appointment as envoy had been very fruitful, expressing hope that something concrete will soon come out of it.
He 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.”
On the divergence in opinions by both the regional bloc and the junta about a quick return to democratic rule, Abubakar 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 the ding-dong starts and we’ll get somewhere hopefully.”
Also at the Tuesday’s meeting were the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Touray, and the National Security Adviser (NSA) to the President, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.