July 17, 2024
Niger agrees to dialogue for restoring relations with Benin

Niger agrees to dialogue for restoring relations with Benin

The military leadership in Niger has signaled readiness to engage in frank dialogue with the government of Benin, facilitated by two former Beninese presidents, Nicéphore Soglo and Thomas Boni Yayi, in efforts to defuse the ongoing crisis between Niamey and Cotonou, according to a statement from Nigerien authorities.

In a move aimed at thawing strained relations between the neighboring countries, the transitional President of Niger, General Abdourahamane Tiani, has accepted the proposal put forth by the former Beninese leaders.

This development follows a meeting held on June 24th in Niamey between General Tiani and the former presidents.

The announcement comes amidst a backdrop of heightened tensions since Niger suspended its oil exports via a 2,000-kilometer pipeline to the Beninese coast in mid-June, triggered by escalating border closures imposed by Nigerien authorities.

No specific date has been set yet for the proposed dialogue session, as confirmed by officials from both countries speaking to Reuters on Wednesday.

The resolution of these diplomatic tensions holds implications beyond bilateral relations, potentially impacting the resumption of oil shipments destined for China through the PetroChina-backed pipeline.

The pipeline was reportedly sabotaged in June by an armed group of Nigerien rebels opposed to the military leadership, resulting in minor damages.

The roots of the Niger-Benin crisis trace back to the July 2023 coup d’état in Niger, which prompted the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to impose sanctions on Niger for over six months.

General Tiani expressed openness to a sincere dialogue during his discussions with the former Beninese heads of state, indicating his acceptance of their proposal to establish a commission comprising representatives from both governments and the visiting former leaders, as stated in Tuesday’s release.

“He agreed to the formation of a commission composed of representatives from the Nigerien government, the Beninese government, and the two former visiting Beninese heads of state,” the statement specified.

Further discussions were reportedly held in a follow-up meeting with Benin’s President, Patrice Talon, on Monday, reinforcing the mutual agreement on the imperative need to restore dialogue as unanimously endorsed by all parties involved.

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