Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani, the leader of the rebels who took control of Niger, declared on Saturday that his nation does not desire war but is prepared to defend itself if necessary.

Niger Does Not Want War - Nigerien Coup Leader

The Al Jazeera network paraphrased Tchiani as saying, “Neither the army nor the people of Niger want war, but we will resist any manifestation of it.”

He stated that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member nations are unaware that Niger is now essential to preventing regional instability in the face of an uptick in terrorist activity.

Tchiani stated that the sanctions imposed on his nation were intended to put pressure on the rebels rather than to resolve the current crisis.

Tchiani added that rebels prefer to find a solution that serves the needs of the populace rather than assuming control of the nation.

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The deposed president Mohamed Bazoum was met by an ECOWAS delegation on Saturday to discuss the conditions of his confinement, according to reports in the media.

Reuters noted that the delegation also spoke with Tchiani later in the day.

On July 26, Niger saw a coup, and Bazoum was overthrown and imprisoned by his own guard, which was headed by Tchiani.

Following the takeover, ECOWAS cut off all financial help to Niger, froze the assets of the rebels, and prohibited commercial flights into and out of the nation.