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Former Nigeria President to Lead ECOWAS Talks on Niger

Former Nigeria President to Lead ECOWAS Talks on Niger
Former Nigeria President to Lead ECOWAS Talks on Niger

In Nigeria, former President General Abdulsalami Abubakar is scheduled to hold discussions with Niger's embattled President Mamadou Tandja's administration Monday in the capital, Abuja.

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Backed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the talks are another attempt to find solutions to the political crisis in Niger.

Monday's dialogue is the first in a series of meetings General Abubakar will hold with both the government and the opposition coalition.

Abdel Fatau Musah political director of ECOWAS said that the sub-regional body does not want any confrontation with President Mamadou Tandja's government.

"Today's meeting is just like the breaking of the ice because the mediator, the former head of state of Nigeria, General Abdulsalami, is meeting the (Niger) government delegation, and after that, there would be meetings also with the coalition of opposition groups from Niger," Musah said.

A coalition of opposition parties is also scheduled to meet the former Nigerian leader Wednesday.

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Musah said the discussions will help General Abubakar determine how best to resolve the crisis in neighboring Niger. He said the sub-regional body wants an end to the stalemate.

"We want Niger to come back as quickly as possible to the fold of ECOWAS, but that is conditioned on the restoration of consensus on the constitutional way forward out of the current crisis," Musah said.

He urged the government and the opposition to consider the aspirations of Nigeriens in resolving the stalemate through dialogue. Musah said the African Union is backing ECOWAS efforts to resolve the impasse.

"The leaders also should know in Niger that it is not only ECOWAS that is taking this action and that the African Union Peace and Security Council have endorsed the position of ECOWAS," Musah said.

He said the European Union is set to impose more sanctions on Niger.

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"The European Union is also putting Niger already under Article 96 in which aid totaling almost half a billion Euros have been frozen, pending restoration of what the EU described as democracy," he said.

ECOWAS suspended Niger's membership from the sub-regional bloc in protest against what it said was flawed parliamentary election. But Niamey dismissed the suspension claiming ECOWAS misunderstood the internal political situation.

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