The leader of the mutineers who seized power in Niger, Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani, said on Saturday that his country does not want war, but will be ready to defend itself if necessary.
“Neither the army nor the people of Niger want war, but we will resist any manifestation of it,” Mr Tchiani was quoted as saying by the Al Jazeera broadcaster.
He noted that the member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) do not realise that Niger has become the key to containing the region from destabilisation against the backdrop of increased terrorist activity.
Mr Tchiani added that the sanctions imposed against his country were aimed at putting pressure on the rebels, and not at finding a solution to the current situation.
In addition, Mr Tchiani said that rebels do not seek to seize power in the country but rather seek to come to a solution that would meet the interests of the people.
On Saturday, media reported that an ECOWAS delegation arrived in the capital of Niger and met with deposed President Mohamed Bazoum to assess conditions of his detention.
Later in the day, Reuters reported that the delegation also held talks with Mr Tchiani.
A coup took place in Niger on July 26 and Bazoum was ousted and detained by his own guard, led by Mr Tchiani.
Following the coup, ECOWAS suspended all financial aid to Niger, froze rebels’ assets, and imposed a ban on commercial flights to and from the country.
In early August, during a summit in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, ECOWAS leaders agreed to activate a standby force to potentially compel the Nigerien military to reinstate Bazoum.
On Friday, ECOWAS commissioner for political affairs Abdel-Fatau Musah said that ECOWAS general staff chiefs had agreed on a date for the beginning of military intervention, but would not make it public.