Niger’s Junta Vows To Prosecute Ousted President For ‘High Treason’

Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum meets with the French Foreign and Armies ministers during their official visit to Niamey on July 15, 2022. (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY / AFP)

The military administration in Niger promised late Sunday to pursue ousted President Mohamed Bazoum for “high treason” and chastised West African leaders for slapping sanctions on the country.

In response to the coup, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) placed sanctions on Niger and has not ruled out employing force against the army personnel who deposed democratically elected Bazoum on July 26.

The West African group has approved the deployment of a “standby force to restore constitutional order” in Niger as soon as possible, but it remains committed to resolving the problem diplomatically.

According to a statement read out on national television by Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane, Niger’s military chiefs claimed they will prosecute Bazoum “for high treason and undermining Niger’s internal and external security.”

Since the coup, Bazoum, 63, and his family have been kept inside the president’s official Niamey mansion, with international alarm increasing over his incarceration conditions.

A member of his entourage said he saw his doctor on Saturday.

“After this visit, the doctor raised no problems regarding the state of health of the deposed president and members of his family,” the military said.

They also said sanctions imposed on Niger had made it difficult for people to access medicines, food and electricity, and were “illegal, inhumane and humiliating”.

– ‘Open to diplomacy’ –

The remarks occurred only hours after religious mediators met with coup leader General Abdourahamane Tiani, who indicated that his regime was willing to reach a diplomatic settlement.

Tiani “said their doors were open to explore diplomacy and peace in resolving the matter,” Sheikh Bala Lau stated, a day after his Nigerian Muslim team met in Niamey.

According to Lau’s statement, Tiani “claimed the coup was well intended” and that the plotters “struck to stave off an imminent threat that would have affected” both Nigeria and Niger.

However, Tiani stated that it was “painful” that ECOWAS had set an ultimatum to recover Bazoum without first hearing “their side of the story.”

The Muslim leaders visited Niamey with the blessing of Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who is also head of ECOWAS.

Tinubu has taken a strong stance against the coup, which is the sixth to occur in an ECOWAS member state since 2020.

The group has cut off financial transactions and electrical supply, as well as shut off borders with landlocked Niger, preventing much-needed goods to one of the world’s poorest countries.

It issued a seven-day ultimatum to reinstall Bazoum or face the threat of force on July 30, but the deadline passed without the new government backing down.

For “technical reasons,” the group canceled a crisis meeting on the coup scheduled for Saturday in Ghana’s capital, Accra.

Demonstrations in favour of the new military rulers have become a common sight in Niamey.

Thousands of people packed the Seyni Kountche Stadium on Sunday to show their support for the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), the generals who have taken power.The throng, mostly young people, waved Niger flags as well as those of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Russia.

The possibility of a military intervention to restore Bazoum has divided ECOWAS members and prompted threats from international powers such as Russia and Algeria.

Mali and Burkina Faso, both headed by military administrations that seized power in coups, have stated any action would be a declaration of war on them.

Written by PH

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