Threats by Niger’s military to prosecute its deposed president Mohamed Bazoum with treason or kill him have been condemned as ill-advised by the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG).
Niger’s military-appointed Prime Minister made the announcement on Tuesday, and CNG responded by issuing a statement through its Spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, in which it condemned the timing and the nature of the plans.
A delegation of Nigerian Islamic scholars had announced a meeting with Niger’s coup leader, Abdourahamane Tchiani, in Niamey, and that the general had agreed to hold “direct talks,” thus he found it shocking that the military declaration came so soon after.
The northern bloc strongly asked ECOWAS to continue its big brother role in the area by pushing on the investigation of all available diplomatic avenues for peace and warned against any international escalation of the crisis.
It further requested that the regional organization stress the need of the Niger military keeping all dialogue alternatives on the table without resorting to grandstanding or threats that are largely symbolic under the current circumstances.
It said, “The CNG strongly repudiates the suggestion to try President Bazoum by the military authorities as well as every other move that potentially poses a threat to the peaceful resolution of the crisis and leads to escalation in any form.”
“Any attempt by the military leadership in Niger to press charges against Bazoum will only likely increase tensions between the Niger military and the international community.”
The group warned that war and instability in Niger Republic would be counterproductive, as they could lead to protracted armed conflicts, which would have negative political and social effects on countries in the sub-region.
While the CNG agrees that Niger Republic’s return to constitutional order as soon as possible would be a positive development, it cautioned that democracy in the country would only be sustainable if all parties to the current crisis agreed to reasonable terms in bringing about long-term peace.
“ECOWAS should therefore desist from creating the impression that genuine diplomacy can go along with threats of military action by way of activation of invading force against the regime in Niger,” the statement continued.
Therefore, ECOWAS must take into account the interests of the civilian population of Niger, which appears to back the military leaders despite all signals to the contrary.
“On their part, the military leaders must recognize the fact that they also owe a responsibility to the population and to the larger African continent and that in the fullness of time, their actions will not go unnoticed and that they will be held accountable for any escalation resulting from their utterances and threats,” Suleiman said.