Niger’s junta told a top U.S. diplomat that they would kill deposed President Mohamed Bazoum if neighboring countries attempted any military intervention to restore his rule, two Western officials told The Associated Press.
They spoke to the AP shortly before the West African bloc ECOWAS said it had directed the deployment of a “standby force” to restore democracy in Niger after its deadline of Sunday to reinstate Bazoum was defied by the junta.
The threat to the deposed president raises the stakes both for ECOWAS and for the junta, which has shown its willingness to escalate its actions since it seized power on July 26.
Representatives of the junta told U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland of the threat to Bazoum during her visit to the country this week, a Western military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
The coup leaders are already depriving the ousted President of food, water and electricity at an army camp where he’s been held captive for the past two weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.
One of the resolutions reached at an emergency summit with ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, in Abuja, on Thursday, regarding the political situation in Niger, is directing the Committee of the Chief of defense staff to activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its elements immediately and order the deployment of the ECOWAS standby force to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.
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