Aug 14, 2023, 9:47am EDT

Niger coup leaders threaten ousted president with ‘high treason’ charges

Niger's junta supporters take part in a demonstration in front of a French army base in Niamey, Niger, August 11, 2023. REUTERS/Mahamadou Hamido
REUTERS/Mahamadou Hamido

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The News

A military junta has threatened to charge ousted Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum with high treason. If convicted, Bazoum, who has been held in the basement of the presidential compound since last month’s coup, could be sentenced to death.

We’ve curated reporting and analysis on the increasingly tense situation in Niger.

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  • Coups in Africa have long been treated as individual crises, but countries dotting the Sahel region are increasingly struggling to build functional states, writes World Peace Foundation executive director Alex de Waal. Citizens in these nations are disenfranchised, and democracy can’t survive there unless it can deliver results, de Waal notes. “African leaders face no room for maneuver at all. They are trapped between lethal scissor blades: much bigger challenges and much less government capacity to respond to them.” — The New York Times
  • The situation in Niger may stem from a failure in French foreign policy. Anti-French rhetoric is growing among former colonies, with whom France had previously maintained a fairly warm relationship. The end of France’s rule in Niger in 1960 left the country in a ”terrible state,” writes columnist David Pilling. And it’s unsurprising that Bazoum, “the mild-mannered civilian president with pro-French tendencies, struggled to bring a sense of progress,” Pilling writes, adding, “He is gone. And so soon may be France.” — The Financial Times
  • France and the U.S. still maintain a presence in the Sahel region through Niger. The country is ripe with foreign investment, and extensive mining and construction projects mean coup leaders have a vested interest in Niger’s continued stability. Even if the West decides to pull its military support from Niger, the heavy investments from China, Russia, and the U.A.E. mean foreign presence will continue in the nation. “These financial interests and security imperatives could convince outside powers to strike a Faustian bargain with Niger’s junta,” writes Samuel Ramani, an Oxford tutor of politics and international relations. — Foreign Policy