Alors que Mohamed Bazoum demeure toujours confined within his residence in Niamey, the military coup plotters are threatening to prosecute him for “high treason” and “endangering the security” of Niger.
The perpetrators of the coup in Niger announced on Sunday their intention to “prosecute” the ousted president Mohamed Bazoum for “high treason” and “endangering the internal and external security” of the country, as a threat of military intervention by West African states looms to restore constitutional order.
“The Nigerien government has collected to date” the “evidence to prosecute the ousted president and his local and foreign accomplices before the competent national and international authorities for high treason and endangering the internal and external security of Niger,” stated Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane, a member of the regime, in a statement broadcast on national television.
The government is basing its accusations on “communications” between Mohamed Bazoum and “nationals,” “foreign heads of state,” and “international organization officials.” Mohamed Bazoum had several conversations with representatives of allied countries before the coup, such as the United States, and members of his political circle.
Regarding the ousted president, the regime called for “questioning the sincerity of his claim that he is being held captive, especially considering that the military never occupied his presidential residence and he still has access to all communication means.”
The military also claims that Mohamed Bazoum “regularly receives visits from his doctor.” According to an advisor to the ousted president, a medical consultation took place on Saturday. “Following this visit, the doctor did not raise any concerns about the health status of the ousted president and his family members,” the military added.
Mohamed Bazoum, held in his presidential residence since July 26 – the day of the coup – along with his son and wife, had stated in several media outlets that he is a “hostage,” deprived of electricity and constrained to eat only rice and pasta.
Furthermore, the military regime denounced the “illegal, inhumane, and humiliating sanctions by ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States),” imposed during an organization summit on July 30, during which a 7-day ultimatum was set to restore constitutional order under the threat of the use of force, which has not been implemented.
During this summit, West African states announced the suspension of financial and commercial transactions with Niger, a country economically and energetically dependent on foreign nations. These sanctions “even deprive the country of pharmaceutical products, foodstuffs,” and “electricity supply,” lamented the military in their statement.
These statements come after the military regime welcomed a delegation of Nigerian Muslim religious leaders on Saturday, led with the approval of Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who also heads ECOWAS, to “ease tensions arising from the prospect of a military intervention” by the organization.
According to a statement from the Nigerian religious mediation, the head of the military regime, General Abdourahamane Tiani, had “declared that his door was open to explore the path of diplomacy and peace in order to resolve” the crisis.
Last Thursday, during a new summit, ECOWAS leaders reiterated their preference for diplomatic means to restore President Bazoum to his functions while ordering mobilization and deployment of the ECOWAS “standby force.”
The timetable and details of a potential West African military intervention have not been disclosed. However, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, whose country will contribute to this force, stated on Thursday that it should be able to intervene “as soon as possible.” A close associate of Mohamed Bazoum had claimed that the military regime had “threatened” to harm him if an armed intervention took place.
According to General Abdourahamane Tiani, as cited in the Nigerian mediation statement, the military overthrew President Bazoum “due to an imminent threat that would have affected not only the Republic of Niger but also Nigeria.” The new strongman of Niger had justified the coup by citing the “security deterioration” in the country, plagued by the violence of jihadist groups, similar to neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, also led by military regimes and which expressed their solidarity with Niamey.
Regarding the individuals close to the ousted regime who have been arrested since the coup, the ruling military authorities have affirmed their “firm intention to uphold Niger’s commitments in the field of human rights.”