A leading member of Niger’s opposition coalition says President Mamadou Tandja’s government is to blame for the breakdown of negotiations to resolve an ongoing political crisis.
Bazoum Mohammed said the government’s refusal to adhere to suggestions by mediator and former Nigerian President General Abdusalami Abubakar led to the breakdown of negotiations.
“I have usually told you that Mr. Tandja did not like this mediation. The mediator gave us his proposal (on) how to get out of the crisis, and when the government delegation saw that, they said that they don’t agree with what has been said by the mediator because he said that there is a political crisis, and we have to get out towards a transition union government. They refused that and gave their counter-proposal, and they said that there is no crisis in Niger” he said.
ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, mandated Abdusalami Abubakar as mediator of the talks between President Tandja’s government and the opposition coalition to resolve the political crisis.
But Mohammed said the group will continue to oppose what they described as Tandja’s coup d’état.
“We have to go on with the struggle. We stopped our demonstrations because of the dialogue. (But) since the dialogue is broken down and Mr. Tandja does not agree to have discussions with us, we have to go on to struggle and fight… in the next weeks,” Mohammed said.
Meanwhile, the mediator is scheduled to present his report about the negotiations to an ECOWAS summit scheduled to be held next week.
Mohammed said the opposition will no longer engage in any negotiations with the government.
“I don’t think so. I think that even the mediator…doesn’t think that there is any possibility for him to come back because all what we have done since we began this mediation two months ago is to be in the same place turning around. But we did not take any steps (forward),” Mohammed said.
Political observers say the West African regional bloc might consider stiffer sanctions against President Tandja’s government over the breakdown of negotiations.