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NIAMEY, Niger (AP) — The army junta that seized energy in Niger stated it plans to prosecute deposed President Mohamed Bazoum for “excessive treason” and undermining state safety, an announcement that got here hours after the mutinous officers stated they had been open to dialogue with West African nations to resolve the regional disaster.

If convicted, Bazoum might face the dying penalty, in line with Niger’s penal code.

A spokesperson for the junta, Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane, stated on state tv that the army regime had “gathered the mandatory proof to prosecute earlier than competent nationwide and worldwide authorities the ousted president and his native and overseas accomplices.”

The Sunday evening announcement stated Bazoum was being charged following his post-coup exchanges with high-ranking West African politicians and “their worldwide mentors,” whom the leaders of the revolt accuse of creating false allegations and trying to derail a peaceable transition in an effort to justify a army intervention.

The assertion didn’t establish particular overseas nations and didn’t specify a date for the trial of Niger’s democratically elected president.

Nonetheless, on the streets of the capital on Monday, some residents advised The Related Press they consider Bazoum is responsible. “Crimes for prime treason is de facto what he deserves as a result of this man betrayed Niger by stealing all of Niger’s sources,” Niamey resident Assan Zakite stated.

Niger, an impoverished nation of some 25 million folks, was seen as one of many final international locations that Western nations might companion with in Africa’s Sahel area to beat again a jihadi insurgency linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. Earlier than final month’s coup, Europe and america had poured tons of of tens of millions of {dollars} into propping up its army.

Members of the presidential guard ousted Bazoum on July 26. He has since been below home arrest together with his spouse and son within the presidential compound within the capital, Niamey.

The junta has confronted worldwide strain to launch and reinstate Bazoum. Instantly after the coup, the West African regional bloc ECOWAS gave the regime seven days to return him to energy and threatened to make use of army power if that didn’t occur. The deadline got here and went with no motion from both aspect.

On Monday, ECOWAS condemned the junta’s treason expenses in opposition to Bazoum, calling them provocative and contradictory to reported willingness to peacefully restore constitutional order.

Final week, ECOWAS ordered the deployment of a “standby” power, nevertheless it’s unclear when or if it might enter Niger. The African Union Peace and Safety Council was assembly on Monday to debate the disaster and will overrule the West African bloc’s resolution if it thought an intervention threatened wider peace and safety on the continent.

Individuals near the president and in his political social gathering reported final week that the primary household’s electrical energy and water had been reduce off and so they’re operating out of meals. The junta dismissed the studies and on Sunday accused West African politicians and worldwide organizations of waging a disinformation marketing campaign to discredit the junta.

Rights teams fear Bazoum received’t get a good trial as a result of the junta’s newly appointed justice minister is the previous president of the nation’s army tribunal.

“We don’t belief him. He can’t embody excellent independence and free justice,” Ali Idrissa, govt secretary of an area human rights group, the Community of Organizations for Transparency and Evaluation of Budgets.

The junta named a 21-person Cupboard final week that features each civilians and army officers, however the uncertainty and blended messages from these claiming to run Niger continued.

Earlier than the army accused Bazoum of treason, a member of the junta’s communication workforce advised journalists on Sunday night that the regime had permitted talks with ECOWAS that may happen within the coming days. A mediation workforce of Islamic students from neighboring Nigeria that had met with the junta over the weekend additionally stated it was open to dialogue with ECOWAS.

Earlier makes an attempt by ECOWAS to talk with the junta foundered as its delegations had been barred from getting into Niger. The army regime’s said openness to talks might mirror the toll of extreme financial and journey sanctions that West African leaders imposed after Bazoum’s ouster however doesn’t imply the discussions will go anyplace, in line with Sahel consultants.

“Let’s see what these negotiations really appear like, as a result of it’s additionally within the junta’s profit to, within the least, entertain talks. That doesn’t imply they’ll be severe about them,” stated Aneliese Bernard, a former U.S. State Division official who specialised in African affairs and is now director of Strategic Stabilization Advisors, a danger advisory group.

Discuss of a possible army mobilization outdoors Niger additionally continues.

In an Aug. 11 memo seen by The Related Press, Senegal’s safety forces ordered a “regroupment” from bases in Senegal for Monday as a part of the nation’s contribution to the ECOWAS mission in Niger. It was unclear what the transfer entailed precisely.

Within the weeks because the coup, the junta has entrenched itself in energy, appointing a brand new authorities and leveraging anti-French sentiment in opposition to its former colonial ruler to shore up help among the many inhabitants, making a tense setting for residents who oppose the junta and for a lot of foreigners and journalists.

The board of administrators for the Press Home, an impartial Nigerien group that protects journalists, stated Sunday that native and worldwide media representatives had been being threatened and intimidated by Nigerien activists who help the junta. The group stated it was deeply involved in regards to the “very tough local weather” by which reporters had been working.

The army takeover additionally has not stamped out jihadi violence, which the coup leaders initially cited as a justification for eradicating Bazoum. Fighters on bikes and believed to be with the Islamic State group ambushed Nigerien safety forces on Sunday, in line with a safety report for support teams seen by the AP.

The assault and one other final week claimed by the al-Qaida linked group often known as JNIM are largely a consequence of army operations to fight extremist violence being suspended because the coup, in line with Wassim Nasr, a journalist and senior analysis fellow on the Soufan Heart.

“That is as a result of halting of cooperation and the army being busy with consolidating their coup in Niamey,” Nasr stated. Communications and dialogue makes an attempt with some jihadi teams, which had been established below Bazoum, additionally had been reduce after the coup, he stated.

A former jihadi, Boubacar Moussa, advised the AP that he’s obtained a number of cellphone calls from lively jihadis saying they had been celebrating the chaos created by the coup and the better freedom of motion the revolt gave them.

Moussa is a part of a nationwide program that encourages jihadi fighters to defect and reintegrate into society. It’s unclear if this system will proceed below the army regime. He thinks because the scenario evolves, jihadis will make the most of the safety hole and launch new assaults.


Related Press writers Lorian Belanger in Shintotsukawa, Japan; Jean-Fernand Koena in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; and Chinedu Asadu in Abuja, Nigeria, contributed to this report.

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