ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — The military government that seized power in Niger has accused United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of “obstructing” the West African nation’s full participation at the U.N.’s annual meeting of world leaders in order to appease France, Niger’s former colonizer, and its allies.
The decision to not allow the junta’s envoy to speak at the U.N. General Assembly in New York could “undermine any effort to end the crisis in our country,” Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane, a spokesman for the officers who deposed Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum in a July coup, said late Friday.
The junta had wanted Niger’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Bakary Yaou Sangare, who was made foreign minister after the coup, to speak on its behalf at the General Assembly.
However, Bakary did not receive credentials to attend after the deposed Nigerien government’s foreign minister sent the world body a letter “informing of the end of functions of Mr. Bakary as permanent representative of Niger to the United Nations,” Stéphane Dujarric, Guterres’ spokesperson, said.
The junta spokesman accused the former minister, Hassoumi Massoudou, of “high treason” and alleged that Guterres’ only interest was “keeping with the determination of France and the European Union to punish Niger and its people at all costs for their patriotic choice.” Abdramane also accused the West African regional bloc ECOWAS of interference.
“With the complicity of France and the two French-speaking heads of state of ECOWAS, the secretary general of the United Nations went astray in the exercise of his mission by obstructing the full participation of Niger in the work of the 78th Session of the U.N. General Assembly,” Abdramane said.
The junta appointed civilians to serve as prime minister and in some other posts as part of a transitional government that it said may remain in place for up to three years, but ECOWAS and foreign powers such as France still recognize Bazoum as Niger’s rightful leader.
The deposed president appealed to a regional court this week to order his release and reinstatement as president. Bazoum took office in 2021 in the country’s first transfer of power between elected leaders since the country’s independence from France in 1960.
ECOWAS has said it considers a military intervention an option for restoring Bazoum as president.