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Niger Junta Accuses UN Chief of Obstruction at General Assembly

Niger’s coup leaders have accused the head of the United Nations of obstructing their participation in the General Assembly, stating that such obstruction could undermine efforts to resolve the crisis in their country. Rebel elite soldiers seized power on July 26, overthrowing President Mohamed Bazoum and detaining him at his home along with his family. Negotiations to restore civilian rule have not yielded results so far, with the junta proposing a three-year transition while the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) calls for the immediate return of the democratically elected Bazoum.

Western governments and global organizations, including the United Nations, have strongly condemned the coup. This condemnation coincided with the General Assembly of world leaders being held in New York this week.

In a public television statement, the military criticized UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, accusing him of deviating from his mission by obstructing Niger’s full participation in the 78th session of the UN General Assembly. They characterized Guterres’ actions as perfidious and likely to hinder efforts to resolve the crisis in their country.

Bakary Yaou Sangare, who previously served as Niger’s ambassador to the UN before the coup, was chosen by the new leaders to represent Niger at the gathering. However, there was also an application from the overthrown government to represent Niamey, creating a diplomatic dilemma.

According to a diplomatic source, when there are competing credentials from a Member State, the matter is deferred to the Credentials Committee of the General Assembly for deliberation. The secretary-general does not make the final decision. Since the committee will not convene until later, no representative from Niger was added to the speakers’ list.

The junta expressed strong opposition to what they viewed as Mr. Guterres’ interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state and forcefully rejected and denounced it.

Niger, one of the world’s poorest nations, has become the fourth West African country to experience a coup since 2020, following Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali. The removal of Bazoum has heightened international concerns about the Sahel region, which is grappling with growing jihadist insurgencies linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group. Sanctions imposed by the region since the coup have led to shortages of food and medicine, soaring prices, and blackouts due to a reduction in electricity supplies from Nigeria.

Senegal’s President Macky Sall expressed hope for a diplomatic solution in Niger, emphasizing that it is still possible to find a reasonable way forward. He urged Niger’s coup leaders not to push for a military intervention, emphasizing the need for a peaceful resolution.

Furthermore, the military leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger signed a mutual defense pact, aiming to establish a collective defense and mutual assistance framework for the benefit of their populations.

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