Abdourahmane Tchiani, leader of the Niger junta, says the military are ready to explore diplomatic dialogue.
Tchiani spoke on Saturday during a meeting with Nigeria’s intervention team comprising Islamic scholars.
The Islamic scholars were led by Bala Lau, national chairman of Jam’atul Izalatu Bida Waikamatu Sunnah, and met with Tchiani for several hours in Niger’s capital, Niamey.
According to a statement signed by Lau on Sunday, the coup leader and Islamic scholars deliberated on several issues including the demand by ECOWAS leaders that democratically elected President Bazoum be reinstated.
Lau said the clerics were in Niger on behalf of President Bola Tinubu who accepted their request to intervene.
He, therefore, told General Tchiani that the visit to Niger was to engage in constructive dialogue to encourage him and other military leaders behind the coup to toe the path of peace instead of war, in order to resolve the crisis.
Responding, Tchiani said their doors are open to explore diplomacy and peace in resolving the matter.
He added that it was painful that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) did not hear the junta’s side of the matter before issuing ultimatums.
He said the coup was well intended, as it was meant to starve off an imminent threat that would have affected both Niger Republic and Nigeria.
He also apologised for not according required attention to the team sent by President Tinubu, led by Abdulsalami Abubakar, former head of state. He added that their anger was a result of the ultimatum by ECOWAS.
When asked by reporters if the junta was ready to dialogue, Ali Mahamane Lamine Zeine, Niger’s prime minister, appointed by the junta, reportedly said: “Yes, for sure. That was exactly what the leader of our country told them, he did not say he was not open to dialogue”.
He also expressed optimism that talks with ECOWAS would take place in the next few days.
‘’We have agreed and the leader of our country has given the green light for dialogue. They will now go back and inform the Nigerian President what they have heard from us…. we hope in the coming days, they (ECOWAS) will come here to meet us to discuss how the sanctions imposed against us will be lifted,” he said.
The prime minister also said the ECOWAS sanctions are ”an injustice” and that they were contrary to the rules of the bloc.