Niger’s military junta has declared its intention to bring former President Mohamed Bazoum to trial on charges of “high treason” and endangering national security. This announcement has sparked concerns about the well-being of Bazoum and his family, who have been held under detention.
This declaration coincided with the junta’s expression of openness to diplomatic negotiations with religious mediators, seeking to address the crisis that followed the July coup. The potential gravity of Bazoum’s situation is underscored by the possibility of a death penalty if he is found guilty.
A representative speaking on behalf of the regime appeared on state television to elaborate that they have amassed substantial evidence against the deposed president and his associates. This evidence apparently pertains to communications between Bazoum and foreign entities during his period of house arrest.
In its statement, the junta pointed fingers at prominent West African politicians and their international backers, accusing them of propagating false claims in a bid to undermine peaceful conflict resolution and justify potential military intervention. The charges against Bazoum are reportedly rooted in his interactions with these individuals. However, the statement refrained from explicitly naming Western nations involved and did not provide a trial date.
Mohamed Bazoum, who had been democratically elected as Niger’s president, was forcibly removed from power by his own presidential guard on July 26. Since then, he, along with his wife and son, has been held under house arrest.
The junta’s spokesperson, Amadou Abdramane, conveyed on state television that the military leadership had compiled the necessary evidence to press charges against Bazoum and his local and foreign associates. The allegations include high treason and compromising both internal and external security of Niger.
Close associates of the former president and members of his ruling party have expressed grave concerns about the welfare of Bazoum’s family. Reportedly, they have been subjected to hardships such as disconnection of essential utilities like electricity and water, and are now grappling with dwindling food supplies.
While Bazoum informed Human Rights Watch about his son’s urgent need for medical attention due to a severe heart condition, the junta authorities countered this narrative on Sunday. According to the junta’s statement, Bazoum had been seeing his doctor, with the latest appointment being on 12 August.
“After this visit the doctor raised no concerns about the state of health of the ousted president and members of his family,” Abdramane said.
The junta accused both West African political figures and international partners of actively participating in a disinformation campaign aimed at discrediting their authority.