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Algeria sends envoy to Niger for talks on coup crisis

By AFP
Algeria Niger is one of Africa's poorest and most troubled countries, suffering five coups since independence from France in 1960.  By Valentin RAKOVSKY AFP
AUG 24, 2023 LISTEN
Niger is one of Africa's poorest and most troubled countries, suffering five coups since independence from France in 1960. By Valentin RAKOVSKY (AFP)

Algeria said it sent a senior official to neighbouring Niger on Thursday to pursue a diplomatic initiative following a coup that has sparked threats of regional military intervention.

The foreign ministry's secretary general, Lounes Magramane, "will be visiting" Niger on Thursday, the ministry said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Niger's Voice of the Sahel radio station later said he met members of the military-appointed government, including Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, Defence Minister Salifou Mody, Foreign Minister Bakary Yaou Sangare and Justice Minister Alio Daouda.

The visit comes a day after Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf began a tour of West African countries in a bid to find a solution in a crisis in which Algiers firmly opposes any military intervention.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has threatened to use force to reinstate the elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, who was toppled by members of his guard on July 26.

The bloc, which has also imposed trade sanctions against Niger, has stressed that any intervention would be a last resort and that it prefers a diplomatic outcome.

Magramane's visit is another step in Algiers' "unceasing efforts... to contribute to a peaceful solution to the crisis in Niger, avoiding increased risks for this neighbouring and brotherly country and for the entire region", the Algerian foreign ministry said.

Algeria, which shares a 1,000-kilometre (600-mile) southern land border with Niger, has previously cautioned against a military solution, which President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said would be "a direct threat" to his country.

He stressed "there will be no solution without us (Algeria). We are the first people affected".

Algeria -- Africa's largest country -- also shares borders with Libya and Mali, both in the throes of years-long conflicts.

Niger is the fourth nation in West Africa since 2020 to suffer a coup, following Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali.

The juntas in Burkina Faso and Mali have said that any military intervention in their neighbour would be considered a "declaration of war" against their countries.

In the event of a military operation, "the entire Sahel will go up in flames," Tebboune has said.

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