Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

In a dramatic turn of events, Niger’s highest court has lifted the immunity of Mohamed Bazoum, the country’s democratically elected president who was overthrown nearly a year ago by mutinous soldiers. This decision, confirmed by Bazoum’s lawyer on Friday, paves the way for the military junta to prosecute him for alleged high treason.

Bazoum, along with his family, has been under house arrest since the coup that abruptly ended his rule last summer. The junta has accused him of high treason and undermining national security. Earlier this year, the junta initiated legal proceedings to lift Bazoum’s immunity through the newly established State Court, now the highest judicial authority in Niger.

Before his ousting, Bazoum had positioned Niger as the West’s last significant security partner in the Sahel—a region south of the Sahara Desert that has become a focal point for violent extremism. His removal marked a significant shift in Niger’s foreign and domestic policies.

Following the coup, the military junta has distanced itself from Western alliances, ordering the withdrawal of Western troops from the country. In a controversial move, they have sought security assistance from the Russian mercenary group Wagner. The Pentagon has indicated that U.S. forces are scheduled to leave Niger by mid-September.

This judicial decision against Bazoum highlights the ongoing political and security turmoil in Niger. As the junta consolidates power and redefines Niger’s international alliances, the country’s trajectory remains uncertain. The prosecution of Bazoum, a significant political figure, marks a critical moment in Niger’s post-coup landscape, raising questions about the future of democracy and stability in the region.

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