‘Nobody Wants to Go to War’ Over Niger Crisis, Ecowas Envoy Says

(Bloomberg) -- A West African bloc mediator sent to meet Niger’s junta leaders following a July 26 coup says a peaceful way out of the crisis remains possible.

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Last week’s visit to Niger “has opened an avenue to start talking,” Abdulsalami Abubakar, a former Nigerian president, told reporters in the capital, Abuja. “Hopefully diplomacy will see the better of this.”

The Economic Community of West African States has said it stands ready to use force if talks fail.

Abdourahamane Tiani, the coup leader, has proposed a return to democracy within three years, but the bloc does not want any prolonged transition, Abdel-Fatau Musah, an Ecowas commissioner, told BBC on Sunday.

“Nobody wants to go to war,” said Abubakar after briefing Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who’s the current Ecowas chairman.

The African Union, which suspended Niger, is studying the economic and security implications of the bloc’s deployment of a standby force.

The coup in Niger - the sixth in West Africa in three years - has brought condemnation from Western nations including France and the US, which together have troops stationed in the country.

The landlocked nation has been a key international ally in the global fight against jihadists in the region. If successful, the coup would create a belt of military-run countries from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, most of which are friendlier to Russia than the West.

(Updates with African Union suspension in fifth paragraph.)

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