Just hours after stating that they were open to discussions with leaders of other West African nations to resolve the issues of regional instability, Niger’s military coup leaders say they intend to prosecute deposed President Mohamed Bazoum on charges of “high treason” and undermining state security.
This comes as a group of West African nations have approved armed intervention in Niger to reinstate the former President “as soon as possible”, the Ivory Coast president says, following a meeting to discuss the coup.
At the meeting, leaders of the Ecowas regional bloc said they had agreed to deploy a “standby” military force.However, they have not given any details of the size of the force.
Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu said the use of force would be a “last resort”.
International pressure is growing on the junta to release and reinstate Bazoum.
Immediately after the coup, the West African regional bloc ECOWAS gave the regime seven days to return him to power or threatened military force, but that deadline came and went with no action from either side.
The announcement of a pending trial for “high treason” on state television on Sunday night, by spokesman Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane, said the military coup regime had gathered enough evidence to prosecute the ousted president and his local and foreign accomplices for high treason and for undermining the security of Niger.
Bazoum, Niger’s democratically elected president, was kicked out of office by members of his own presidential guard on July 26 and has since been under house arrest with his wife and son in the presidential compound in the capital, Niamey.
People close to the president as well as those in his ruling party say their electricity and water have been cut off and they’re running out of food, but he junta has dismissed these reports and accused West African politicians and international partners of fueling a disinformation campaign to discredit the junta.
Sources: NPR, AP News.