Niger coup plotter and “self-proclaimed chief of defence” General Moussa Salaou Barmou worked with U.S. Special Forces for many years, with a longstanding understanding of democracy and sanctions for deviations, a U.S. undersecretary has said.
Mr Barmou is among the three other putschists supporting the new military leader of Niger, General Abdourahmane Tiani.
Speaking during a question and answer session, Victoria Nuland, the acting deputy secretary of state, said, “With regard to the – to us, interestingly, General Barmou, former Colonel Barmou, is somebody who has worked very closely with U.S. Special Forces over many, many years.”
Ms Nuland stated this following a crucial first meeting of U.S. officials with members of the military junta in Niger in a significant diplomatic push to restore democratic rule to the country.
Ms Nuland said the U.S. was pushing for a negotiated solution in Niger and went “through in considerable detail the risks to aspects of our cooperation that he has historically cared about a lot.”
“So we are hopeful that that will sink in,” added the U.S. undersecretary.
While noting several regional meetings are going on to negotiate with coupists to release President Mohamed Bazoum and step aside, Ms Nuland said the U.S. would continue to watch closely with allies and partners needed to make the negotiations successful.
“If there is a desire on the part of the people who are responsible for this to return to constitutional order, we are prepared to help with that. We are prepared to help address concerns on all sides,” Ms Nuland stated. “I would not say that we were in any way taken up on that offer, but I hope that they will think about it.
The U.S. envoy added, “Obviously, we are at the stage where our assistance is paused. There are – there is still a lot of motion here on many sides with regard to where the governance situation will go.”
The coupists overthrew the democratically elected government of Mr Bazoum in Niger and suspended the nation’s constitution.
The coup d’etat in the country has continued to attract wide condemnation from ECOWAS, EU, UN, U.S. and France, but the military junta continues to defy efforts to resolve the impasse, placing the ousted president under house arrest.
An ultimatum by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to the coup plotters to reinstate Mr Bazoum expired Sunday.
ECOWAS has scheduled another extraordinary summit on the political situation in Niger for Thursday in Abuja.