A leading member of Niger’s opposition coalition says the group has low expectations in the upcoming meeting between the government and the European Union scheduled to begin this week in Belgium’s capital, Brussels.
Bazoum Mohamed, Vice President of the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism said President Mamadou Tandja is unwilling to compromise on efforts to resolve the political crisis despite international pressure.
“We don’t expect anything because they (government) have clearly said before they (went) there that they are not ready to do anything that the European Union is telling them to do,” he said.
A government delegation is reportedly in Brussels ahead of a scheduled meeting with the European Union officials. This comes after the European threatened to suspend development aid over what it calls a "grave violation" of democracy.
But it extended its 30-day ultimatum, giving to the government one more week to resolve the impasse.
Mohamed said it is unlikely the government will accept the European Union’s demand for a return to democracy.
“We are sure that there would be no agreement between the European Union and the government and the European Union will take sanctions (against) the government,” Mohamed said.
Former Nigerian President General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who was nominated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to act as mediator over the Niger crisis is scheduled to soon present a report of his mediation efforts.
But Mohamed said the report will reflect the government’s refusal to end the crisis.
“After two weeks the mediator between us and the power who has been appointed by ECOWAS will do his report and he will say that the government of Niger is not ready to have any agreement with the opposition. And I think that ECOWAS will know that Mr. Tandja is not ready for anything and the whole international community will be in the same position,” Mohamed said.
President Tandja has so far resisted international pressure to return to democracy saying Nigeriens want him to stay to continue the good works he has started.