Junta Reports: President Bazoum of Niger Attempts Escape from Captivity

Niger’s former President Mohamed Bazoum is currently being held by the country’s military junta. He was ousted by the army in July, as West Africa faces a series of coups.

Niger’s military rulers said they had thwarted an attempt by former President Mohamed Bazoum to escape their custody on Thursday.

Others helped Bazoum try to escape, junta claims

“At around three in the morning, the ousted President Mohamed Bazoum and his family, his two cooks and two security elements, tried to escape from his place of detention,” the junta spokesperson Amadou Abdramane said on state television.

Abdramane condemned Bazoum’s actions as “irresponsible.” He said the escape involved primary actors and accomplices.

The plan for the escape involved Bazoum initially reaching a hideout on the outskirts of capital Niamey, said Abdramane. The group then had intentions of departing via helicopters “belonging to a foreign entity” en route to Nigeria.

Bazoum was ousted by the military on July 26, and had refused to resign. He was detained at his official residence within the presidential palace alongside his wife Haziza and son Salem.

In September, Bazoum’s legal team revealed that he had filed a legal case with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court against those responsible for his ouster. They stated their intention to bring his case before the UN Human Rights Council.

The military officers who orchestrated Bazoum’s removal said the deteriorating security situation in Niger led them to oust him. They said they were better positioned to tackle the Islamist insurgency in Niger.

West Africa gripped by a series of coups

Niger’s coup was one of five that have swept West Africa’s central Sahel region in three years, leaving much of the region under military control.

Due to the army takeover in Niger, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that France was ending its military presence and would pull its ambassador out of the country.

French troops have already been pushed out by military regimes in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso. Both of those countries are seeing a rise in jihadi attacks.

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