Hassoumi Massoudou, Niger’s exiled Foreign Minister, has voiced strong objections to the military junta’s move to prosecute the country’s ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum.
In an interview with FRANCE 24 and sister radio station RFI, Massoudou emphasized the necessity of restoring constitutional order through negotiations and denounced the junta’s claim to legitimacy.
Mohamed Bazoum, who was democratically elected as Niger’s leader, was forcibly removed from power by the presidential guard on July 26. Since then, Bazoum and his family have been confined to the presidential compound in Niamey under house arrest.
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A close ally of Bazoum, Massoudou, currently seeking refuge in Nigeria, asserted that the military junta was unlawfully keeping Bazoum in a state of “hostage.”
He denounced the junta’s announcement of intending to try Bazoum for treason, contending that the group lacked the authority to conduct such trials.
Massoudou criticized the junta’s credibility, stating that those who executed the coup and engaged in what he called a “corrupt act” were morally unfit to hold anyone accountable through a trial.
International pressure has mounted on the junta to release Bazoum and reinstate him as Niger’s president. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) initially granted the junta a week ultimatum to restore Bazoum to power, threatening military intervention if they failed to comply. However, the deadline elapsed without any actions taken by either side.
Massoudou acknowledged the possibility of military intervention by ECOWAS but emphasized that a diplomatic resolution was still viable.
He urged a negotiated settlement to the current standoff, underlining the importance of avoiding further conflict.