Days after the military in Niger successfully staged a coup and removed President Mohammad Bazoum, they have now threatened to kill Bazoum if other countries try to interfere in the matter. According to a report by AP, the ruling Junta told the U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland that deposed President Mohamed Bazoum will be killed if regional countries attempted any military intervention to restore his rule. The president is currently being detained by the junta.
Representatives of the junta told this to Victoria Nuland during her visit to the country this week. AP reported that a Western military official confirmed this on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. A US official also confirmed the development, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
On July 26, the military of Niger, led by General Abdourahamane Tchiani, who was the former chief of the Presidential Guard, seized power in the Sahel nation by removing President Mohammad Bazoum. Bazoum has been in detention since.
A diplomatic mission led by US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland had travelled to Niger’s capital Nimaye. However, they could only meet the new military chief of staff Brigadier General Moussa Salaou Barmou, not the new leader General Abdourahamane Tchiani or deposed President Bazoum.
The US mission sought to find a ‘diplomatic solution’ to ‘restore democracy’ in their country after the July 26 coup. However, the military rulers flatly refused the proposals. When Nuland threatened to cut all kinds of support to Niger if the military leaders do not stand down, the Junta said that they don’t need American money.
“Use your money to fund a weight loss program for Victoria Nuland,” they reportedly said.
Nuland stated that the military leaders of Niger were ‘unresponsive’ to her proposals and suggestions on how they want to proceed to ‘restore democracy’ in the country. The discussion with the military leaders was “extremely frank and at times quite difficult”, Nuland told the media at Nimaye.
In the meanwhile, West African heads of state have started deliberations after the Junta defied their deadline to reinstate the deposed president. However, the alliance known as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have limited options to force Niger’s ruling military to accept their demands, as the possibility of a military intervention is highly remote.
“It is crucial that we prioritize diplomatic negotiations and dialogue as the bedrock of our approach,” Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who currently chairs the bloc, said before a closed-door meeting of the ECOWAS members.
On Wednesday, a Nigerian delegation met the junta’s leader, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani. However, the military leader refused to meet U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. A delegation comprised of ECOWAS, the United Nations and the African Union was also barred from entering the country.