A leading member of Niger’s opposition coalition says the group will be pulling out of negotiations with embattled President Mamadou Tandja’s government ahead of a scheduled meeting with the mediator, Abdulsalami Abubakar on Thursday.
Bazoum Mohammed said President Tandja’s recent statement that he is not ready to make any concessions at ongoing peace talks with the opposition makes it impossible to continue negotiations with the government.
“We will have our meeting for the negotiations with the mediator Mr. Abdulsalami. But I don’t think that there is any hope in this negotiation because yesterday (Tuesday), Mr. Tandja did a statement where he said that he cannot do anything that is not on the …republic basis. So there won’t be tomorrow any purpose (for negotiation with the government),” he said.
Niger President Mamadou Tandja
Former Nigerian leader General Abdulsalami Abubakar was chosen by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to act as mediator between Niger’s government and the opposition to resolve the political impasse.
But Mohammed said the scheduled peace talks will not resolve the crisis after President Tandja’s alleged pronouncement.
“I don’t think (so) because Mr. Tandja is a singular person. He cannot mind that there has been an AU (African Union) summit and there has been a decision. He is sure that all he does is decided by God, and I think that Mr. Tandja doesn’t consider that he is a person, but a God,” Mohammed said.
He said the opposition was encouraged by the African Union’s decision Monday to strengthen its powers to counter the growing series of coups and electoral fraud on the continent.
Niger’s opposition has often accused President Tandja of undertaking a coup d’état after changing the constitution to extend his mandate. But Tandja maintains Nigeriens want him to stay and continue the good work that he is doing.
Mohammed urged the mediator to call off the negotiations.
“When we have the meeting, I think that he will see that there is no basis of dialogue. And we will want him to take his decision to stop this dialogue because it is not a dialogue, and to do his report to the ECOWAS summit, the European Union and to the African Union -- to do his report, and to say that Mr. Tandja refuses the dialogue, did not want the dialogue, and there hasn’t been any dialogue between Nigeriens,” Mohammed said.