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.
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.
A U.S. official confirmed that account, also speaking on condition of anonymity, because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Bazoum, who was deposed on July 26, says he is being held hostage at his residence.
The regional ECOWAS bloc said Thursday it had directed the deployment of a “standby force” to restore democracy in Niger after the coup. However, ECOWAS officials gave few details and failed to spell out the make-up, location and proposed date of deployment for any military intervention force.
West African heads of state met in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, to discuss next steps after Niger military junta defied their deadline of Sunday to reinstate Bazoum but analysts say the bloc may be running out of options as support fades for a military intervention.