Niger's coup leaders say they will prosecute deposed President Mohamed Bazou
NIAMEY, Niger — Niger's mutinous soldiers say they will prosecute deposed President Mohamed Bazoum for "high treason" and undermining state security, hours after they said they were open to dialogue with West African nations to resolve the mounting regional crisis.
The announcement on state television on Sunday night, by spokesman Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane, said the military regime had "gathered the necessary evidence to prosecute before competent national and international authorities the ousted president and his local and foreign accomplices for high treason and for undermining the internal and external security of Niger."
Bazoum, Niger's democratically elected president, was ousted by members of his presidential guard on July 26 and has since been under house arrest with his wife and son in the presidential compound in the capital, Niamey.
People close to the president as well as those in his ruling party say their electricity and water have been cut off and they're running out of food. The junta dismissed these reports Sunday night and accused West African politicians and international partners of fueling a disinformation campaign to discredit the junta.
International pressure is growing on the junta to release and reinstate Bazoum. Immediately after the coup, the West African regional bloc ECOWAS gave the regime seven days to return him to power or threatened military force, but that deadline came and went with no action from either side.
Last week, ECOWAS ordered the deployment of a "standby" force, but it's still unclear when or if it would enter the country.
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