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Niger military leaders say might return power to civilian govt. within 3 years 

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Leader of the Niger junta, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, has pledged to hand back power to a civilian government within the next three years.

He stated this in a televised broadcast on Saturday night.

Tchiani spoke after meeting with a delegation of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) led by the former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd).

General Tchiani said that the junta would within a month form a committee to study and form the new constitution of the country.

While he maintained that Niger did not want to go to war, the General said the country would defend itself if the need arises.

He, however, added that the door for negotiation was still open.

ECOWAS has yet to react to the speech of the junta leader, but Abdulsalami is expected to brief the regional bloc on the outcome of the meeting.

Meanwhile, Niger’s military-appointed prime minister, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, said that the deposed president Mohamed Bazoum would be safe and unharmed.

Recall President Bola Tinubu on Friday warned of impending “grave consequences” should the military rulers of Niger allow Bazoum’s health to deteriorate while under house arrest.

Lamine Zeine told The New York Times that, “Nothing will happen to him, because we don’t have a tradition of violence in Niger.”

Niger’s new rulers have so far shown little flexibility and warned against “illegal aggression”.

Meanwhile, Radio France International reported that thousands of volunteers turned out in central Niamey on Saturday answering a call to register as civilian auxiliaries who could be mobilised to support the army.

This is coming on the heels of ECOWAS force readiness to intervene in Niger ‘anytime the order is given’, after a two-day meeting of the regional bloc’s military chiefs in Accra, the capital city of Ghana.

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