Algeria sends envoy to Niger for talks on coup crisisThu, 24 Aug 2023 21:43:09 GMT

Algeria said it had sent a senior official to neighbouring Niger on Thursday to pursue a diplomatic initiative following a coup that has sparked threats of regional military intervention.Algeria has come out against West African bloc ECOWAS’s threat to send a military force to intervene if the new military regime there fails to restore democracy.The foreign ministry’s secretary general, Lounes Magramane, met members of the military-appointed government including the prime minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine.He stressed the importance of “negotiation”, according to remarks reported by Niger’s national radio station.”An intervention in Niger will naturally have disastrous consequences not only for Niger but for all the countries in the region”, he told the Voice of the Sahel station.He hoped the visit would strengthen “the international and regional momentum” and encourage “everyone to support the political and peaceful process for resolving the crisis in Niger”.Algeria’s foreign ministry had earlier said Magramane would be visiting Niger.The radio station said that as well as the prime minister, he met Defence Minister Salifou Mody, Foreign Minister Bakary Yaou Sangare and Justice Minister Alio Daouda.The visit comes a day after Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf began a tour of West African countries to try to find a solution to a crisis in which Algiers firmly opposes any military intervention.- ‘Unceasing efforts’ -The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has threatened to use force to reinstate the elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, who was toppled by members of his guard on July 26.The bloc, which has also imposed trade sanctions against Niger, has stressed that any intervention would be a last resort and that it prefers a diplomatic outcome.Magramane’s visit was another step in “unceasing efforts… to contribute to a peaceful solution to the crisis in Niger, avoiding increased risks for this neighbouring and brotherly country and for the entire region”, the Algerian foreign ministry said.Algeria, which shares a 1,000-kilometre (600-mile) southern land border with Niger, has cautioned against a military solution, which President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said would be “a direct threat” to his country.He stressed “there will be no solution without us (Algeria). We are the first people affected”.Algeria — Africa’s largest country — also shares borders with Libya and Mali, both in the throes of years-long conflicts.Niger is the fourth nation in West Africa since 2020 to suffer a coup, following Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali.The juntas in Burkina Faso and Mali have said that any military intervention in their neighbour would be considered a “declaration of war” against their countries.In the event of a military operation, “the entire Sahel will go up in flames,” Tebboune has said.