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NIGER: Junta slams UN chief for general assembly ‘obstruction’

Niger’s coup leaders accused the head of the United Nations on Friday of obstructing their participation in the body’s General Assembly, saying it was “likely to undermine any effort to end the crisis in our country”.

Rebel elite soldiers overthrew president Mohamed Bazoum on July 26 and have since detained him at home with his family.

Negotiations to restore civilian rule have yet to bear fruit, with the junta demanding a three-year transition and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) calling for the immediate return of the democratically elected Bazoum.

Western governments and global bodies such as the UN have also strongly criticised the coup, which is holding its General Assembly of world leaders in New York this week.

In a news release read on public television, the military said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “went astray in the exercise of his mission by obstructing Niger’s full participation in the 78th session of the UN General Assembly”.

It criticised “the perfidious actions” of the UN leader, adding that they were “likely to undermine any effort to end the crisis in our country”.

Bakary Yaou Sangare, who before the coup was Niger’s ambassador to the UN and is now its foreign minister, was the new leaders’ chosen representative for the gathering.

But, according to a diplomatic source, there was also an application by the overthrown government to represent Niamey.

“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,” Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“The secretary-general does not decide.”

Because the committee will not meet until later, no representative from Niger was added to the speakers’ list.

Niger “forcefully rejects and denounces this clear interference by Mr Guterres in the internal affairs of a sovereign state”, the junta said.

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