Niger agrees Algerian mediation to resolve post-coup crisis

Algeria Niger agrees Algerian mediation to resolve post-coup crisis
OCT 3, 2023 LISTEN

Niger's coup leaders have accepted Algeria's offer of mediation to resolve the country's political crisis following the overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum, who is filing a legal case against the putschists.

According to an announcement from Algeria's foreign ministry, Niger's military has agreed to a six-month transition plan to restore "the constitutional order".

The junta ousted Niger's democratically elected, pro-Western president Mohamed Bazoum on 26 July and had proposed a three-year transition back to democracy.

In a statement, Algiers said the Algerian government "has received via the Nigerien ministry of foreign affairs a [statement of] acceptance of Algerian mediation aimed at promoting a political solution to the crisis in Niger."

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has tasked Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf with visiting Niamey "as soon as possible with the aim of launching discussions ... with all stakeholders."

In late August, Algeria – which borders Niger – had proposed a transition period of up to six months, which would aim to "formulate political arrangements with the acceptance of all parties in Niger without excluding any party."

In Monday's statement, the Algerian foreign ministry said, "the acceptance of the Algerian initiative strengthens the prospect of a political solution to this crisis".

Niger's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reportedly "indicated the availability of the Nigerien authorities to examine Algeria's offer of mediation".

This comes as Algiers has categorically rejected any foreign military intervention in Niger, underlining a military solution would be "a direct threat" to Algeria. 

Bazoum takes legal action

The West African bloc Ecowas has threatened to use force as a last resort to reinstate Bazoum, who has been held in his residence since the coup.

His lawyers say they are filing a legal case in the country against those behind the coup d'état.

The lawsuit targets Niger's current military leader General Abdourahamane Tiani and "all others". 

It constitutes a civil action and alleges "attack and conspiracy against state authority, crimes and offences committed by civil servants and arbitrary arrests and confinements".

The case – which is being brought by Bazoum, his wife and two of their children – is expected to be lodged in the next few days with a court in the capital Niamey.

His lawyers also said in a statement they were appealing to two bodies of the UN Human Rights Council, including its working group on arbitrary detention.

Bazoum filed a lawsuit with a court at the Economic Community of West African States on 18 September. 

On Monday, an international collective of lawyers that included American human rights specialist Reed Brody – in a written statement – called for Bazoum's immediate release. 

3 days mourning after jihadist attack

Meanwhile, Niger began three days of national mourning this Tuesday after 29 soldiers were killed in a suspected jihadist attack, the deadliest since the military took power in July.

Niger is battling two jihadist insurgencies – a spillover in its southeast from a long-running conflict in neighbouring Nigeria, and an offensive in the west by militants crossing from Mali and Burkina Faso.

The Ministry of Defence said in a televised statement that Monday's attack in western Niger involved "improvised explosive devices and kamikaze vehicles by more than a hundred terrorists."

It added that two soldiers were seriously wounded and "several dozen terrorists" were also killed.

The attack took place northwest of Tabatol near the border with Mali, which is plagued by fighting with militants affiliated with the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda.

Violence in the "three borders" area between Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso has fuelled military takeovers in all three countries since 2021.

France maintains about 1,500 soldiers in Niger as part of an anti-jihadist deployment in the Sahel.

The coup leaders have demanded a "negotiated framework" for their withdrawal.