Nigeria is calling for the release of ousted Niger president Mohamed Bazoum and for the military junta to allow him to leave for a third country, its foreign minister said.
Nigeria is current chair of the regional group Economic Community of West African States or ECOWAS which has imposed sanctions on Niger following the July coup that ousted Bazoum.
ECOWAS had been demanding Bazoum’s immediate return to the presidency, but the military junta has kept him in detention and says it may need up to three years for a return to civilian rule.
“We are asking them to release President Bazoum so that he will be allowed to leave Niger,” Nigerian Foreign Minister Yusuf Tuggar told local Channels TV news in an interview published on its website at the weekend.
“He will no longer be in custody. He will go to a third country that is mutually agreed. And then we start talking about the removal of sanctions.”
He said ECOWAS was still open to talks with Niger’s junta.
“You know, the opportunity is there. We are always ready, willing, and able to listen to them and the ball is in their court.”
ECOWAS leaders will meet in Nigeria’s capital Abuja on December 10 to discuss the region, where since 2020 coups have put military juntas in power in Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Niger.
Last month, a failed coup attempt left 21 dead in Sierra Leone, another member of ECOWAS, according to senior officials in the country.
ECOWAS member Guinea-Bissau’s President Umaro Sissoco Embalo said Saturday violence this week involving members of his country’s National Guard was an “attempted coup.”