Bazoum has been detained by the junta since he was ousted on July 26. Photo: Présidence du Niger

Niger's military regime has vowed to prosecute ousted president Mohamed Bazoum for "high treason" and slammed West African leaders for imposing sanctions on the country.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed sanctions on Niger in response to the coup and has not ruled out using force against the army officers who toppled the democratically elected government of Bazoum on July 26.

Niger's military leaders said they would prosecute Bazoum "for high treason and undermining the internal and external security of Niger", according to a statement read out by Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane on national television on Sunday night.

Bazoum, 63, and his family have been held at the president's official residence in Niamey since the coup, with international concern mounting over his conditions in detention.

Open to talks

A member of Bazoum's entourage said the deposed president saw his doctor on Saturday. "After this visit, the doctor raised no problems regarding the state of health of the deposed president and members of his family," the military said.

They also said sanctions imposed on Niger had made it difficult for people to access medicines, food and electricity, and were "illegal, inhumane and humiliating".

The comments came just hours after religious mediators met with coup leader General Abdourahamane Tiani, who indicated his regime was open to a diplomatic breakthrough.

Tchiani "said their doors were open to explore diplomacy and peace in resolving the matter", said Sheikh Bala Lau who led a Nigerian Muslim delegation that held talks with the junta leader in the capital Niamey.

'Painful sanctions'

Tchiani "claimed the coup was well intended" and that the plotters "struck to stave off an imminent threat that would have affected" Nigeria as well as Niger, according to Lau's statement.

But Tchiani said it was "painful" that ECOWAS had issued an ultimatum to restore Bazoum without hearing "their side of the matter", the statement added.

The Muslim leaders visited Niamey with the blessing of Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who is also head of ECOWAS.

Tinubu has adopted a firm stance against the coup, the sixth to hit an ECOWAS member state since 2020.

The bloc has severed financial transactions and electricity supplies and closed borders with landlocked Niger, blocking much-needed imports to one of the world's poorest countries.