Tinubu has not ruled out use of force in Niger, says Presidency

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President Bola Tinubu has not ruled out military intervention, the presidency has said, ahead of a West African coalition’s crisis summit in Abuja on Thursday. Tinubu, who also chairs the bloc ECOWAS, still believes diplomacy is the “best way forward” to resolve the crisis, according to his spokesman.

So far efforts by ECOWAS and the United States to convince Niger’s new rulers to hand back power to the democratically elected leader have made little headway. The soldiers who took charge defied a Sunday deadline to reinstate President Mohamed Bazoum or face the possible use of force and have been unswayed by negotiations, instead staging a rally at a stadium in the capital Niamey.

“No options have been taken off of the table,” Tinubu’s spokesman Ajuri Ngelale said on Tuesday. The United States said it still hopes the coup could be undone but is “realistic”, a day after a top US envoy appeared to make no progress in an unannounced visit. “At the same time, we are making clear, including in direct conversations with junta leaders themselves, what the consequences are for failing to return to constitutional order,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on social media that he had spoken to Bazoum “to express our continued efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the current constitutional crisis”.

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