Niger military coup leaders move to try deposed president Mohamed Bazoum for treason


Deposed Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum may face treason charges, the junta that deposed him last month announced, marking a new escalation in tensions with neighboring countries that are pondering military action against the coup leaders.

A military intervention would put hundreds of Western soldiers, including U.S. and French troops who are based in Niger to assist in combating regional militant groups, at risk of being caught in the middle.

In his statement Sunday night, the junta spokesman, Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane accused Bazoum of “high treason” and of “undermining the internal and external security of Niger” — charges that could carry the death penalty.

West African nations mobilize standby force as Niger crisis grinds on

Abdramane said the gathered “necessary evidence” could be used to prosecute Bazoum “before competent national and international authorities.”

The Associated Press reported last week that Niger’s junta has in private conversations with Western officials threatened to kill Bazoum, who is being held in a basement of his residence, in the event of a military intervention.

In the immediate aftermath of the coup, the leaders of ECOWAS, a regional bloc of countries, had imposed a deadline on the Nigerien junta, giving it one week to restore Bazoum to office. But that deadline passed last week with no signs of military action.

ECOWAS reiterated its warnings after an emergency summit last Thursday, saying that the bloc was mobilizing a standby military force, but it did not provide a timeline or specifics for a possible military intervention.

Meanwhile, the military junta named a new government last week and staged rallies in shows of defiance.

Skeptics of military action have pointed out that two of Niger’s neighbors, Mali and Burkina Faso, might support the Nigerien junta if ECOWAS were to send troops.

Only hours before the possible charges against Bazoum were announced on Sunday night, a religious delegation visiting from neighboring Nigeria put out a statement that raised hopes for de-escalation, saying that the military junta had shown a willingness to engage diplomatically.


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