Niger Opposition Insists on Return to Constitutional Order before Talks
Niger Opposition Insists on Return to Constitutional Order before Talks

An official of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says the sub-regional body supports the latest European Union ultimatum demanding Niger’s government to restore democracy.

Niger opposition coalition is fighting Tandja's ru
Niger opposition coalition is fighting Tandja's rule

ECOWAS political director Abdel Fatau Musah said there is close cooperation between his organization and the European Union to resolve the political crisis in Niger.

“Throughout the conflict situation in West Africa, we have worked very much hand in hand with the European Union and then during our last Troika meeting, Niger came up and we were unanimous on it. So, this (EU) meeting that is going to be held on Niger on Article 96 is very much in consonance with the position of ECOWAS on Niger,” he said.

Washington voiced concerns over the political crisis there after President Tandja changed the constitution. The action removed term limits that were scheduled to expire this December.   

The European Union has 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.

Human rights activist Abdul Kamardine expressed support for the EU ultimatum.

“We are backing the European Union stance because they are trying to force Tandja and his people to restore democracy because what they (government) are doing is a kind of coup d’état, which is bad for the country,” Kamardine said.

ECWAS official Abdel Fatau Musah said former Nigerian leader General Abdulsalami Abubakar is in Brussels to attend the European Union meeting on Niger’s crisis.

“General Abdulsalami Abubakar… who is the ECOWAS mediator in Niger is actually attending the EU meeting of Article 96  and will give a report on the status of his mediation so far at the AU meeting,” Musah said.

He praised the mediation efforts of the former Nigerian leader after both the government and the opposition agreed for the first time to meet face-to-face.

“The situation is not has hopeless as it was before and that both sides in the crisis in Niger are very willing to enter into dialogue with each other. And for ECOWAS and I think for the mediator that is a major breakthrough. What General Abdulsalami is going to do is to be a facilitator in this process. He is not going to impose anything,” he said.