Two West African leaders addressed journalists on the resolutions taken at the just concluded ECOWAS extraordinary summit on Niger.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how ECOWAS approved the deployment of a ‘standby force’ to Niger to dislodge the junta if dialogue fails.
The President of Cote d’Ivoire, Alhassan Ouatarra, and his Senegalese counterpart, Macky Sall, spoke to journalists in separate interviews in Abuja on Thursday.
Mr Ouatarra spoke before the summit ended as he had to travel back to his country while Mr Sall spoke at the end of the summit.
Read the excerpts of their interviews below.
President Alhassan Ouatarra
Ouatarra: We had a very good summit. We thank President Tinubu for having invited us, for his hospitality and the people of Nigeria.
As you’re aware this is the second summit in 10 days that we have organized on Niger and this is a critical problem we have to solve. As you’re aware, ECOWAS has taken many decisions in the past, legal and factual about coup d’etat and the community has always condemned coup d’etat and coup d’etat have happened in many countries in the sub-region. ECOWAS has intervened in the past in Liberia, Sierra Leone recently in Gambia, Guinea Bissau and today we have a similar situation in Niger.
I’d like to say that ECOWAS cannot accept this. This is not a matter of Nigeria against Niger, not at all. The decision that we have made today and I hope it would be implemented immediately is a decision of ECOWAS, all the heads of state think that we have tried dialogue with the putschists.
We have sent delegation, high personalities like former President Abdulsalami Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, Emir of Kano, former governor of CBN Sanusi my friend and many other personalities in this important country, to talk to the people of Niger.
But they’re keeping President Bazoum as a hostage. I personally consider this as a terrorist act. And we cannot let this continue. We have to act.
The position of Côte d’Ivoire which has been endorsed by all of the heads of state is that we have been able to tell these putschists that their place is in the barracks. They should go to fight the terrorists and not try to kidnap a democratically elected president.
So we believe that this for the credibility of echoes, all of us are concerned and involved in this decision. So I’d like to thank my former president of ECOWAS, President Tom Barlow. He himself is a former general, democratically elected now to say what we want is democracy in our sub-region. We do not accept, we will not accept coup de tas and I think these putschists must go if they don’t let Bazoum out to be able to exercise his mandate. I think we should move ahead and get them out. Bazoum is the democratically elected president. He should be freed, he should be able to exercise his mandate freely.
Q: Are you saying this is ECOWAS’s position?
Ouatarra: As you can see I have to leave now. But this is the position most heads of state who have intervened have endorsed. So I want to say I want to insist this is not a Nigerian affair. It’s an affair of ECOWAS, and you know Niger is part of the monetary union of West Africa, which I am the chair and this concerns Cote d’Ivoire on that account. So ECOWAS is even bigger. ECOWAS is nearly 400 million people, 240 million in Nigeria, 140 million in the West African monetary union. So this is 400 million people. If we don’t have democracy, do you think that our countries will be able to move ahead? This coup d’etat is not acceptable. We should put an end to it. And I hope it will be unanimously but we’ll put this to an end. Thank you.
President Macky Sall
Q: Can you please tell us how the meeting went?
Sall: It was a good meeting.
Q: What’s your stance as regards the resolution taken?
Sall: I support the action that has been proposed by ECOWAS that we do not accept this attempted coup d’etat http://www.ecowas.int/to stand and that we make every effort to make sure that constitutional order returns to Niger.
Q: Why is the position of ECOWAS on Niger different from other sister countries?
Sall: If we had made mistakes in the past, we should try to correct it now. There is always a time to get started. I think it was a mistake not to have taken action previously, but now that we are together on this we should take action to make sure that it does not continue.
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