China wants to be mediator to solve Niger crisis

The Chinese government intends to mediate Niger’s crisis where the military deposed the elected president more than a month ago, according to its envoy to the West African country.

Jing Feng held talks Monday with Niger’s transition Prime Minister Ali Mahamane Lamine Zene in the Nigerien capital of Niamey.

Feng said China always pursues the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs and it is keenly following the situation in Niger.

“The Chinese government intends to play the role of a mediator, with full respect for the regional countries, to find a political solution to this Nigerien crisis,” Feng told reporters after the meeting. “China stands with Nigeriens in this situation.”

He said China has always stood with African countries but encourages them to devise their own solutions to their problems.

The meeting reportedly focused on the political situation in Niger.

China remains Niger’s partner in several areas including energy, oil and infrastructure, according to officials.

The two countries are working on the construction of a 2,000-kilometer (1,243-mile) long oil exportation pipeline which would facilitate transportation of crude oil from southern Niger’s Agadem fields to the port of Seme in Benin.

Zeine said talks are underway with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the possibility of lifting “as soon as possible” sanctions imposed on Niger following the political crisis.

He said similar discussions are underway on a rapid French military withdrawal of about 1,500 troops stationed in Niger.

Niger was plunged into turmoil July 26 when Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani, a former commander of the presidential guard, led a military intervention that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.

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