Coup leaders in Niger have levelled allegations against the United Nations Secretary-General, asserting that his actions are obstructing their participation in the General Assembly, thereby potentially undermining efforts to resolve the ongoing crisis in the country.
Elite rebel soldiers orchestrated a coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26, detaining him and his family at home. Negotiations to reinstate civilian rule have encountered difficulties, with the junta insisting on a three-year transition, while the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) calls for the immediate return of the democratically elected President Bazoum.
Western governments and international organizations, including the UN, have strongly condemned the coup, which coincides with the General Assembly of world leaders taking place in New York this week.
In a news release broadcast on public television, the military accused UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of deviating from his mission by obstructing Niger’s full participation in the 78th session of the UN General Assembly. The military criticized what it described as the UN leader’s “deceptive actions,” which it believes could undermine efforts to resolve the crisis in the country.
Bakary Yaou Sangare, who served as Niger’s ambassador to the UN before the coup and is now the country’s foreign minister under the new leadership, was designated as the junta’s representative for the General Assembly. However, sources report that the overthrown government also submitted an application to represent Niamey.
Regarding competing credentials from a Member State, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric clarified, “In case of competing credentials from a Member State, the secretary-general defers the matter to the Credentials Committee of the General Assembly, who will deliberate on the matter. The secretary-general does not decide.” As the committee will not convene until later, no representative from Niger was added to the speakers’ list.
The junta vehemently rejected what it perceived as “clear interference” by Mr. Guterres in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.
Niger, one of the world’s poorest nations, has become the fourth country in West Africa to experience a coup since 2020, following Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali. President Bazoum’s removal has heightened international concerns regarding the Sahel region, which faces escalating jihadist insurgencies linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.
The regional sanctions imposed since the coup have led to scarcity of food and medicines in landlocked Niger, soaring prices, and electricity shortages after Nigeria suspended its electricity supplies.
Senegal’s President Macky Sall expressed hope for a diplomatic solution in Niger, emphasizing that it is still possible to reach a reasonable resolution. Sall urged Niger’s coup leaders to avoid pushing for military intervention as a final decision.
Earlier this month, the military leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger signed a mutual defence pact, aiming to establish a framework of collective defence and mutual assistance for the benefit of their populations.