The military rulers of the Niger Junta are facing widespread condemnation from various quarters, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United States, and the UN, over their announcement to prosecute deposed President Mohamed Bazoum. This move is seen as contradictory to the professed commitment of the Niger junta to resolving the crisis through peaceful means.
In a late Sunday statement, the Niger junta leaders who removed Bazoum claimed to possess evidence that would allow them to charge him with high treason and subverting both the internal and external security of Niger. The basis for these allegations was cited as Bazoum’s communication with nationals, foreign heads of state, and officials in international organisations.
On Monday, ECOWAS issued a statement expressing its astonishment at these threats. The organisation deemed this action yet another provocation that goes against the reported intentions of Niger’s military authorities to restore constitutional order through nonviolent methods.
Since the coup, Bazoum, aged 63, along with his family, has been held in the official presidential residence. The conditions of his detention have caused mounting international concern.
The United States joined the chorus of disapproval on Monday, expressing strong dismay at the prospect of the Niger junta rulers putting detained President Bazoum on trial. Vedant Patel, the State Department spokesman, conveyed the U.S. perspective, stating that such action is both unwarranted and unjustified. Furthermore, he warned that this approach would only exacerbate tensions and hinder the prospects of a peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis.
Similarly, the United Nations also voiced its concern. Stephane Dujarric, the UN spokesperson, termed the attempt by the Niger junta to charge democratically elected President Bazoum with high treason as very worrying. Dujarric emphasised the international organization’s ongoing apprehension about the well-being, health, and safety of the President and his family. He reiterated the call for Bazoum’s immediate and unconditional release, as well as his restoration to the position of head of state.