Niger’s junta to try ousted president for “high treason”
The prospect of a diplomatic solution in the West African country of Niger – more than two weeks after a military coup – appears more remote than ever after military leaders announced that they’ll prosecute the recently deposed leader.
After weeks of back-and-forth with regional leaders, junta personnel say they will try President Mohamed Bazoum, who’s currently in custody along with his wife and son, for “high treason.”
Quick background. The Western-aligned Bazoum came to power in 2021, becoming the former French colony’s first democratically elected head of state.
Indeed, the country of 25 million, one of the poorest in the world, is of great significance to global power brokers like the US, France, and Russia. Read more here.
Though it’s unclear when the trial might start, the hefty charges could carry the death penalty in Niger.
What’s more, many say that there’s no way that Bazoum would get a fair trial because the new justice minister has close ties to the junta.
This comes as a West African regional bloc, known as ECOWAS, has tried to engage with the junta to reinstate Bazoum – which has so far been a non-starter for the military. As diplomatic efforts foundered, ECOWAS said last week that it had put a military force on standby as proof that it was ready to intervene militarily to reinstate the constitutional order. This only caused the junta to double down as they promptly threatened to kill Bazoum.
The latest threat suggests that the junta leaders feel confident that regional forces are full of bluster and aren’t really prepared to fight it out. Are they right?