Upping the Ante
Listen to Today's Edition
Niger’s coup leaders will prosecute ousted President Mohamed Bazoum on charges of “high treason,” the latest defiance by the junta amid international pressure and threats of regional military intervention following last month’s coup, the Guardian reported.
On Monday, military officials said they have gathered evidence against Bazoum, accusing him of exchanging messages with West African leaders and “their international mentors” to undermine Niger’s security.
The announcement added that Bazoum’s “foreign accomplices” had made false allegations and attempted to derail a peaceful solution to the crisis in order to justify a military intervention. It did not specify who the leaders were or the date of the trial.
Bazoum could face the death penalty if found guilty.
Bazoum, Niger’s democratically elected president, was removed from power by his presidential guard in a July 26 coup. He was then placed under house arrest along with his wife and son.
People close to the president and members of his ruling party have claimed that the junta has been holding Bazoum and his family in inhumane conditions, including cutting off electricity and water.
Monday’s announcement came hours after regional religious mediators met with junta leader Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani, who indicated his regime was open to a diplomatic resolution to the crisis that followed the coup.
The military leaders are facing regional and international pressure to quickly restore civilian rule: Following the coup, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) set a seven-day deadline to return Bazoum to power and threatened to use military action if the junta didn’t comply.
However, this deadline passed without any action from either side. ECOWAS recently ordered a standby military force for potential intervention.
Meanwhile, the African Union’s peace and security council is convening to discuss the Niger crisis and might overrule intervention decisions if continental peace and security are at risk. Mali and Burkina Faso, for example, have said any intervention in Niger was tantamount to a declaration of war against them.