Niger Coup To Prosecute President Bazoum With “High Treason,” Says “Will Overcome” ECOWAS Sanctions

The Niger coup plotters are determined to overcome the sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in response to the power seizure, according to newly appointed Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine. In an interview released on Monday, Zeine emphasized the nation’s resilience and commitment to prevailing despite what he deemed an unfair challenge.

“We think that even though it is an unfair challenge that has been imposed on us, we should be able to overcome it. And we will overcome it,” Zeine said.

ECOWAS had taken measures such as severing financial transactions, cutting off electricity supplies, and closing borders with landlocked Niger, causing adverse impacts on the country’s access to essential imports.

The African bloc also announced last week it’s going to deploy a “standby force” with the goal of reestablishing democracy in Niger post-coup.

Zeine noted that while the sanctions have presented challenges, Niger remains hopeful about a visit from a Nigerian delegation and upcoming discussions with ECOWAS. He underlined the significance of Niger’s historical relationship with Nigeria and the West African bloc, expressing a strong desire to preserve this bond.

“We have a great interest in preserving this important and historical relationship and also in having ECOWAS work on purely economic issues first,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) convened a meeting on Monday to address the crisis in Niger resulting from the July 26 coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum. The AU’s Peace & Security Council gathered at its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with participants including AU Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat and representatives from Niger and ECOWAS.

Last week, the AU chief expressed serious concern about the reported harsh conditions of Bazoum’s detention, condemning the treatment inflicted upon him by the coup leaders as “unacceptable.”

High treason

The development comes after Niger’s military junta has unveiled its intentions to prosecute deposed President Bazoum on charges of high treason and jeopardizing national security, marking a clear defiance of international pressures for his reinstatement. This signals a hardening stance as the junta continues to hold Bazoum, who has been confined to the basement of his palace for about three weeks following the military coup.

Despite the challenging conditions of his captivity, Bazoum’s spirits remain high, as noted by his doctor after a recent visit. However, growing concerns are mounting about the well-being of Bazoum, his wife, and son, who are also being held. This comes amid mounting international calls for his release, with the junta appearing unwavering in its position.

The junta conveyed its decision to prosecute Bazoum and his alleged associates, both domestic and foreign, for high treason and endangering Niger’s internal and external security. These claims were shared in a statement broadcast on state TV, although further details were not provided.

The coup plotters has also recently detained the son of Niger’s ambassador to France, Aïchatou Boulama Kané, in the capital city of Niamey. Idrissa Kané, who also serves as the general manager of Niger’s Post Office, finds himself embroiled in an alleged misappropriation of public funds case being investigated by Halcia, Niger’s anti-corruption body. Whether this detention is directly tied to the ongoing investigation or if it is influenced by his mother’s defiance against Niger’s new military leaders remains uncertain.

Gen Abdourahmane Tchiani, the leader of the presidential guards unit, seized control of Niger on July 26th through the coup, declaring himself the new ruler. Despite the threat of military action from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS to reverse the coup, tangible actions have yet to materialize. The junta remains resolute and has cautioned against external intervention.

Despite his detention, Bazoum managed to publish an article in The Washington Post, voicing his concerns about the coup’s potential catastrophic consequences. Reports indicate that Bazoum’s health is deteriorating, and his son’s medical needs are being neglected. UN human rights chief Volker Turk condemned the inhumane conditions of detention, deeming them a violation of international human rights standards.

Bazoum’s daughter, Zazia, shared harrowing details of their captivity, underscoring the lack of basic necessities such as clean water and electricity. Fresh food has rotted due to power outages. Bazoum’s public appearances have been limited since his overthrow, including a meeting with Chad’s leader Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno in a bid to resolve the crisis, which yielded no resolution.

Information for this briefing was found via France 24, BBC, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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