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Niger’s Ousted President Faces ‘High Treason’ Charges, Death Penalty From Mutinous Military

Despite warnings from the U.S. and West African nations, Niger’s mutinous military regime announced on Sunday that it will charge ousted President Mohamed Bazoum for “high treason,” a charge that could carry the death penalty, The Associated Press reported Monday.

Niger military spokesman Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane said the regime had “gathered the necessary evidence” to prosecute Bazoum “for high treason high treason and undermining the internal and external security of Niger” during an announcement on state television Sunday evening. The announcement comes hours after Niger’s military regime said they’d be willing to discuss diplomatic options with West African nations, according to the AP.

If Bazoum is convicted, he could face the death penalty in accordance with Niger’s penal code, the AP reported.

Bazoum, the country’s democratically elected president, was overthrown by Niger’s military on July 26 and has since been held under house arrest with his wife and son in Niger’s presidential compound. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ordered the deployment of standby forces in the region but not yet invaded Niger or engaged in conflict with the country’s military regime, according to the AP.

Hours before the announcement that Bazoum would be charged with treason, Niger’s military regime told journalists and a mediation team of Islamic scholars that they were open to discussions with ECOWAS, according to the AP. How the announcement will affect the discussions, which are set to take place this week, is unclear.

“Let’s see what these negotiations actually look like, because it’s also in the [military’s] benefit to in the least entertain talks. That doesn’t mean they’ll be serious about them,” said former U.S. State Department official Aneliese Berand, according to the AP.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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