Russian President Vladimir Putin engaged in a dialogue with Mali’s transitional head, Assimi Goita, this Tuesday, regarding the recent coup in Niger that has elicited international calls for the forceful reinstatement of democratic governance.
In this conversation, Putin advocated for a non-violent solution to the political turmoil, a sentiment echoed in separate statements released on Tuesday by both the Kremlin and Goita.
“The discussion between the parties centred on the prevailing circumstances in the Sahara-Sahel zone,” the Kremlin announced. “They underscored, notably, the necessity of addressing the situation in the Republic of Niger exclusively through serene political and diplomatic channels.”
Niger’s democratically elected leader, Mohamed Bazoum, along with his family, remains detained by the newly established military administration since his removal from office on July 26.
Government officials in the neighbouring, formerly French-ruled nations of Mali and Burkina Faso have expressed support for the coup orchestrators and cautioned against the use of military force to reinstate Bazoum.
The 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has prepared a contingent military force, poised for potential deployment against Niger’s current leadership, whom the organisation accuses of resisting diplomatic initiatives to liberate and restore the deposed president.
France, Niger’s erstwhile colonial authority, and the United States, both of which have put certain developmental aid initiatives for the African nation on hold, have voiced their endorsement of ECOWAS’s stance.
Moscow has consistently counselled against external interference, with Russia’s Foreign Ministry issuing a warning last Friday that any such manoeuvre would aggravate the crisis in the Sahel area, a region already beleaguered by extremist violence that has forced millions to flee.
Since last month’s coup, anti-French sentiment in Niger has intensified. Demonstrators, in support of the military regime, have been seen brandishing Russian flags at protests and demanding France’s exit amidst accusations of meddling.
Ali Mahamane Lamine Zeine, the Prime Minister appointed by the new military government, conveyed on Tuesday the new leadership’s openness to dialogue. He stressed, nonetheless, the imperative for the nation to maintain its sovereignty.
In the interim, high-ranking military officials from West Africa are scheduled to convene in Ghana this Thursday and Friday to strategize for a possible military intervention, as intimated by ECOWAS, should diplomatic endeavours prove unfruitful.
According to the Associated Press, the coup orchestrators have previously issued a grim warning that Bazoum’s life would be in jeopardy if the regional body were to take measures to reinstate his governance.