Niger’s coup leaders say they will prosecute deposed President Mohamed Bazoum for ‘high treason’

by Sophia Chen
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fokus keyword: Niger's coup

The rebellious soldiers in Niger have declared that they will prosecute the overthrown President Mohamed Bazoum on charges of “high treason” and undermining state security. This announcement came shortly after the junta indicated a willingness to engage in dialogue with West African countries to address the escalating regional crisis.

Should Bazoum be convicted, he might face the death penalty under Niger’s legal system.

The military’s spokesperson, Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane, announced on state TV that they had collected the necessary evidence to bring charges against the deposed president and his accomplices, both local and foreign, for high treason and destabilizing the internal and external security of Niger. However, specific details regarding the allegations or the timing and context of the trial were not provided.

Bazoum, who was democratically elected, was overthrown by his presidential guard on July 26 and has been held under house arrest along with his family in the presidential compound in Niamey. The ruling party and those close to the president claim that the family’s basic utilities have been cut off, and they are running low on food, though the junta has denied these reports.

International pressure for Bazoum’s release and reinstatement is mounting. Following the coup, ECOWAS (the West African regional bloc) threatened military action if Bazoum was not restored to power within a week, a deadline that has since passed without action from either side.

Last week, ECOWAS ordered the deployment of a “standby” force, but its entry into Niger remains uncertain. The African Union Peace and Security Council’s meeting could overrule the decision if they believe an intervention might threaten broader peace and security on the continent.

Amid growing uncertainty, there are mixed signals about negotiations. On Sunday, prior to the treason accusation, a member of the junta’s communication team said the regime had approved talks with ECOWAS, while a mediation team from neighboring Nigeria stated that the junta was open to dialogue. Previous attempts at communication have failed, but increased ECOWAS pressure, including sanctions, might lead to progress in talks, although Sahel experts caution that this does not guarantee sincere negotiations.

Meanwhile, military mobilization continues, with Senegalese forces preparing to move as part of the ECOWAS mission in Niger. Details of troop movements remain unclear.

Since the coup, the junta has consolidated power, leveraging anti-French sentiment to gain support, creating tension among locals, foreigners, and journalists. Journalists have reported threats and intimidation, heightening concerns about their working environment.

Additionally, jihadi violence is on the rise. Niger, once considered a democratic partner in the Sahel region for Western nations fighting against jihadi groups, has seen increased attacks since the coup, and France and the United States have suspended military operations. Recent ambushes on Nigerien security forces and a shift in the conflict dynamics indicate a new phase where groups are attempting to consolidate power. Some believe that this is a result of the military’s focus on consolidating the coup and a reduction in dialogue with jihadi groups that had been established under Bazoum.

A former jihadi has reported increased celebration and movement among active jihadis since the coup, suggesting they may exploit the security gap to launch new attacks.

The evolving situation in Niger is complex, with growing uncertainty and potential implications for both national and regional stability. International players continue to watch closely as developments unfold.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword: Niger’s coup

Who is being prosecuted for high treason in Niger?

Deposed President Mohamed Bazoum is being prosecuted by the rebellious soldiers in Niger for “high treason” and undermining state security.

What could be the penalty for Bazoum if found guilty?

If found guilty of the charges, Bazoum could face the death penalty according to Niger’s penal code.

What actions has the West African regional bloc ECOWAS taken?

ECOWAS has threatened military action, set deadlines for restoring Bazoum to power, and ordered the deployment of a “standby” force. They have also applied economic and travel sanctions, and there are indications of a newfound openness to talks with the junta.

Has the military regime provided details about the allegations against Bazoum?

No, the announcement gave no precise details on the allegations nor the circumstances or date of a trial.

What has happened to jihadi violence since the coup?

Since the coup, jihadi violence in Niger is rising. Attacks linked to groups like al-Qaida and the Islamic State have increased, signifying a new phase of the conflict and potentially a consequence of suspended military operations by Western nations.

How has the junta responded to reports of Bazoum’s family running out of food and utilities?

The junta has dismissed reports that Bazoum’s family’s electricity and water have been cut off and that they’re running out of food, accusing West African politicians and international partners of fueling a disinformation campaign.

What is the current state of negotiations between the junta and ECOWAS?

As of the latest reports, there are mixed signals regarding negotiations. While some members of the junta and mediators have indicated openness to dialogue with ECOWAS, previous attempts to communicate have floundered. Some experts caution that the junta’s willingness to entertain talks doesn’t necessarily mean they will be serious about them.

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