By – Oluwafunmilayo Ogedengbe
The military junta in Niger has announced its intention to charge former President Mohamed Bazoum with high treason due to his interactions with foreign leaders and international bodies.
The junta through its spokesperson, Colonel Amadou Abdramane said in a statement read out on state TV that it had gathered evidence to prosecute “the deposed president and his local and foreign accomplices for high treason and undermining the internal and external security of Niger”.
Abdramane also said there was a misinformation campaign against the junta to try to “derail any negotiated solution to the crisis in order to justify military intervention … in the name of ECOWAS”.
It did not give further details.
The military had detained Bazoum and dissolved the elected administration, leading to strong criticism from international powers and neighboring West African nations. These neighboring countries have activated a standby military force that holds the potential to intervene and restore Bazoum to power.
Bazoum’s political party had stated that his family lacks access to essentials like clean water, fresh food, and medical care. Bazoum personally informed Human Rights Watch that his son’s critical heart condition requires medical attention.
The junta however said on Sunday that Bazoum was regularly seeing his doctor and that the last visit was on Aug. 12.
“After this visit the doctor raised no concerns about the state of health of the ousted president and members of his family,” Abdramane said.
Bazoum was in “good spirits” despite being held in “difficult” conditions, his doctor said after the visit.
Further negotiations are anticipated as West Africa’s primary regional organization, ECOWAS, on Monday is set to advocate for additional discussions with the junta. The junta has indicated a potential openness to seeking a diplomatic solution to the ongoing deadlock following the coup on July 26th.
The regional bloc’s parliament expressed its intention on Saturday to dispatch a committee to engage with the junta in Niamey; however, the exact timing for this mission remains unclear.
Additionally, the Peace and Security Council of the 55-member African Union is scheduled to convene on Monday to address the Niger situation, highlighting the significant unease surrounding the potential consequences of the seventh coup in West and Central Africa within three years.
Notably, Niger hosts U.S., French, German, and Italian troops, situated in a region where local factions linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have caused numerous casualties and significant displacement.