Niger’s junta announced on Thursday that they successfully thwarted an escape attempt by former President Mohamed Bazoum, who has been detained by the military since the July 26 coup, despite international pressure for his release.
The interim authorities disclosed that Bazoum, along with his family and accomplices within the security forces, had devised a plan to transport themselves to the outskirts of the capital city, Niamey, and make their way to neighbouring Nigeria via helicopter.
In a statement, a military spokesman affirmed, “The decisive response from our defense and security forces prevented the destabilization of our nation.” The attempt to flee was strategically blocked, ensuring the nation’s stability.
Bazoum’s current whereabouts remain unknown.
Niger’s coup marks one of five similar events that have swept through the central Sahel region of West Africa over the past three years. This wave of coups has left a vast expanse of arid terrain, located to the south of the Sahara Desert under the governance of military regimes.
Bazoum’s removal from power, akin to elected leaders in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso, is partly attributed to the escalating insecurity brought about by an Islamist insurgency, which has claimed the lives of thousands in the region. The military contends they are better equipped to tackle this insurgency than a civilian government.
Critics argue that Bazoum, his political party, and his family have endured harsh conditions during their detention, lacking access to necessities such as running water, electricity, and fresh provisions. These conditions have elicited condemnation from former Western allies.