Algeria seeks six-month transition for neighbouring coup-hit Niger

A half-year transitional phase proposed to allow the country to restore 'constitutional and democratic order'

Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf visited Nigeria, Benin and Ghana, last week. Getty Images
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Algeria's foreign minister on Tuesday proposed a six-month transitional plan for Niger, whose coup leader seeks a far longer timetable back to democracy.

Ahmed Attaf gave his suggested framework after a tour last week to three of Niger's neighbouring countries in Ecowas. This West African bloc has threatened to send in a military force if Niger's junta fails to restore democracy.

Mr Attaf repeated Algeria's rejection of military intervention in Niger and said Algiers would not allow its airspace to be used to that end.

He proposed a half-year transitional phase to allow the neighbouring country to restore “the constitutional and democratic order”.

In a televised press conference, Mr Attaf noted that coup leader Gen Abdourahamane Tchiani “has called for a transitional period that lasts for three years at most”.

“But in our view, the process can be completed in six months”, so the coup does not become a “fait accompli”, he said.

The transitional plan would aim to “formulate political arrangements with the acceptance of all parties in Niger without excluding any party”. The process would be overseen by a “civilian power led by a consensus figure”, Mr Attaf said, without specifying who the power might be.

Mr Attaf's tour last week took him to Nigeria, Benin and Ghana, where he held talks against the backdrop of Algeria's repeated calls to prevent military intervention in Niger.

Ecowas said it would use force as a last resort to reinstate Niger's elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, who was detained by his guards on July 26.

Mr Attaf's tour coincided with a visit by Algerian Foreign Ministry Secretary General Lounes Magramane to Niger, where he met members of the military-appointed government, including Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine.

Mr Attaf on Tuesday reiterated that a military solution would have “catastrophic consequences” for Niger.

He said neither Mr Magramane nor Algiers' envoy in Niamey had met with Mr Bazoum, though he did not indicate whether the ousted leader formed part of his country's vision for Niger's transition.

Asked whether Algeria would allow its airspace to be used for military intervention, he said: “We reject the military solution, so how can we allow for our airspace to be used for a military operation?”

Algeria shares a 1,000km southern land border with Niger.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has said a military solution would be “a direct threat” to Algeria, Africa's largest country.

He said: “there will be no solution without us. We are the first people affected”.

Updated: September 05, 2023, 1:34 PM