Niger Military Junta Plans to Prosecute Ousted President for Treason

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The military junta that recently seized power in Niger has announced its intention to prosecute ousted President Mohamed Bazoum for high treason. The charges are based on his exchanges with foreign heads of state and international organizations.

The coup leaders took control of the country, imprisoning Bazoum and dissolving the elected government. This action has drawn condemnation from global powers and West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS. In response, ECOWAS has decided to assemble a standby military force that could intervene to reinstate Bazoum.

The outcome of this power struggle not only affects the fate of Niger, a major uranium producer and Western ally in the fight against insurgency, but also the influence of rival global powers with strategic interests in the region.

Colonel Amadou Abdramane, the junta spokesperson, stated in a televised statement on Sunday that the military authorities have gathered the necessary evidence to prosecute Bazoum for high treason and for undermining the internal and external security of Niger.

The United Nations and ECOWAS have both condemned the move and continue to call for the immediate release and reinstatement of Bazoum. The regional bloc labeled the prosecution as a provocation that contradicts the military authorities’ reported willingness to restore constitutional order through peaceful means.

While some residents of Niger’s capital city, Niamey, expressed support for the prosecution of the deposed president, others emphasized the importance of respecting due process and ensuring that the judiciary tasked with the case possesses the necessary skills to properly investigate and prosecute the charges.

Analysts believe that the junta’s prosecution of Bazoum is a strategy to diminish his legitimacy and discourage foreign powers from attempting to reinstate him. The junta hopes to provoke a softer stance from ECOWAS and focus instead on establishing a transitional deal for a return to democratic governance.

The junta spokesperson also alleged a misinformation campaign against the junta, claiming that it aims to derail any negotiated solution to the crisis in order to justify military intervention. The junta had initially rebuffed diplomatic missions but has recently shown willingness to engage in talks since ECOWAS announced its intention to activate standby troops for potential use in Niger.

The conditions in which Bazoum is being held have raised concerns from various international organizations, including the African Union, the European Union, the United States, and the United Nations. Reports indicate that Bazoum’s family has limited access to basic necessities, including running water, fresh food, and medical aid.

The junta, however, has assured that Bazoum is regularly seeing a doctor and that his and his family’s health are not at risk. The international community remains vigilant about the situation in Niger, given the region’s history of coups and the presence of foreign troops combating militant groups.

As Russian influence grows in the region, Western powers are concerned that the junta in Niger may follow the examples set by Mali and Burkina Faso, where former colonial power France was expelled after coups.

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