Deposed Nigerien President Bazoum To Be Tried for High Treason

Niger's Deposed President Bazoum to Be Tried for High Treason

( – The Nigerien military junta announced on August 14 the prosecution of toppled President Mohamed Bazoum. The junta, commanded by the former head of Bazoum’s presidential guard Abourahmane Tchiani, said they accused Niger’s commander-in-chief of threatening national security and high treason.

In a statement, which was read out on national TV, Tchiani said that the junta gathered “plenty of evidence” to prosecute Bazoum. Tchiani, who proclaimed himself Niger’s new ruler on July 26, also said that Nigerian authorities will prosecute Bazoum’s local and “foreign accomplices.”

In response, the West African regional bloc Ecowas said it felt shocked that Niger’s junta is willing to take this step against the deposed president. It also noted this is the clearest sign that Tchiani’s junta is not only refusing to return Bazoum to power but is also willing to resist international pressure.

On August 12, the junta allowed a doctor to visit Bazoum after growing international demand for his release. The doctor said the deposed president was “in good spirits” despite the “difficult conditions” of his captivity beneath the palace.

During a press conference, US State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel expressed the Biden administration’s dismay that Bazoum had been charged. When asked about his thoughts on the charges, Patel told reporters that these were “completely” unwarranted and unjustified. He also claimed this move from the Nigerian junta wouldn’t end peacefully, pointing out the junta was undermining justice and democracy in Niger.

According to reports, Ecowas has threatened military action against Tchiani’s junta to reverse the coup and restore order in Niger. So far, the regional block has failed to take concrete action as some of its members remain skeptical about this type of military operation. However, Ecowas has imposed numerous sanctions against the junta and has even cut electricity to Niger, causing massive blackouts in the country’s major cities, including the capital Niamey.

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