Niger Junta Slams UN Chief For General Assembly ‘Obstruction’

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres addressing the 2023 UNGA. Twitter/@antoniogutteres

On Friday, the coup leaders in Niger accused the UN Secretary-General of impeding their participation in the body’s General Assembly, claiming it was “likely to undermine any effort to end the crisis in our country.”

On July 26, rebel elite soldiers deposed President Mohamed Bazoum and detained him at home with his family.

Negotiations to restore civilian rule have yet to produce fruit, with the junta wanting a three-year transition period and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demanding the return of the democratically elected Bazoum immediately.

The coup has also been strongly criticised by Western governments and global bodies such as the UN, which is holding its General Assembly of world leaders in New York this week.

In a news release read on public television, the military said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “went astray in the exercise of his mission by obstructing Niger’s full participation in the 78th session of the UN General Assembly”.

It criticised “the perfidious actions” of the UN leader, adding that they were “likely to undermine any effort to end the crisis in our country”.

Bakary Yaou Sangare, who before the coup was Niger’s ambassador to the UN and is now its foreign minister, was the new leaders’ chosen representative for the gathering.

But, according to a diplomatic source, there was also an application by the overthrown government to represent Niamey.

“In case of competing credentials from a Member State the secretary-general defers the matter to the Credentials Committee of the General Assembly who will deliberate on the matter,” Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“The secretary-general does not decide.”

Because the committee will not meet until later, no representative from Niger was added to the speakers’ list.

Niger “forcefully rejects and denounces this clear interference by Mr Guterres in the internal affairs of a sovereign state”, the junta said.

Worries over Sahel

Niger, one of the world’s poorest countries, is the fourth West African country to experience a coup since 2020, following Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali.

The expulsion of Bazoum heightened international concern about the Sahel area, which is facing escalating jihadist insurgencies linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State organization.

Sanctions at the regional level Food and medication are short in landlocked Niger since the coup, prices are increasing, and there are blackouts after Nigeria interrupted electrical supplies.

Senegal’s President Macky Sall said on Thursday a diplomatic solution in Niger was “still possible”.

“I hope that reason will ultimately prevail… that it is still possible to move forward reasonably to a solution,” Sall said in an interview with France’s RFI and France 24 media outlets.

He urged Niger’s coup leaders “to not push (us) to the final decision which would be a military intervention”.

The military leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger signed a mutual defence pact this month, saying they aimed to “establish an architecture of collective defence and mutual assistance for the benefit of our populations”.

Written by PH

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