Niger’s ousted President Mohamed Bazoum is running low on food and in need of urgent attention two weeks after he was deposed and put under house arrest, the Associated Press (AP) reported on Wednesday.
The media giant had reported that the U.S. State Department had expressed deep concern about the “deteriorating conditions” of his detention.
On July 26, mutinous soldiers who carried out a bloodless coup that removed democratically elected President Bazoum held him, his wife, and his son in the presidential palace in Niamey.
AP, based on reliable intelligence, says that the family is living without electricity and only has rice and canned goods left to eat.
However, Bazoum and his family, it is said, remain in good health and have sworn to never resign from office.
Following the turn of events in one of Africa’s underdeveloped economies, Bazoum’s political party, the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism, issued a statement confirming the president’s living conditions and saying the family was also without running water.
Anthony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State, pledged support for ECOWAS in a BBC interview on Tuesday, especially as it demands the reinstatement of the ousted president.
He said, “We strongly support the work that ECOWAS is doing to try to help restore the constitutional order in Niger. I’ve been in close touch with President Bazoum, with many colleagues in the region, including the Nigerian President Tinubu, colleagues at the African Union, and it’s very important that that constitutional order be restored. And right now, I think ECOWAS is playing a very important role in moving the country back in that direction.”
Blinken added that concerning the health of the president, he spoke with Bazoum and “emphasised that the safety and security of President Bazoum and his family are paramount.”
This week, the new military junta in Niger has taken actions to solidify its hold on power while rejecting international mediation efforts. On Wednesday, the junta accused France, the country’s former coloniser, of attempting to disrupt its stability, violating its airspace, and discrediting its leadership. In response, France’s foreign and defence ministries jointly released a statement dismissing these claims as baseless.
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Earlier in the week, the junta appointed Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine as the new prime minister. Zeine is a civilian economist with previous experience as the economy and finance minister. He had left his post following a 2010 coup that ousted the government at that time. Zeine later went on to work at the African Development Bank.
“The establishment of a government is significant and signals, at least to the population, that they have a plan in place, with support from across the government,” said Aneliese Bernard, a former State Department official who specialised in African affairs and is now director of Strategic Stabilisation Advisors, a risk advisory group.
Surprisingly, only the former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has been successful in gaining the attention of the high-ranking military officers in control of governance in the Niger Republic.
A move that diplomatic watchers see as a good step in restoring diplomatic relations between ECOWAS, the US, and the Niger Republic.