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International Organisations Raise the Alarm About Bazoum’s Detention Conditions, Safety

WorldInternational Organisations Raise the Alarm About Bazoum’s Detention Conditions, Safety

The African Union, United Nations, the European Union and Germany yesterday spoke out against the worsening conditions deposed Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum and his family are living under, as decided by the military junta that overthrew him.

Soldiers from the Presidential Guard had on July 26 deposed President Bazoum, thus truncating the constitutional political leadership in the West African country. Two days later, the soldiers named General Abdourahamane Tchiani as the new leader of the country, with Tchiani warning against any foreign military intervention.

After a meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of States and Government in Abuja on Thursday, the bloc directed the deployment of a “standby force” to restore democracy in Niger after the coup.

However, the African Union in a statement yesterday expressed “deep concern” at the reported poor conditions of Bazoum’s detention, calling his treatment at the hands of coup leaders “unacceptable”.

“Such treatment of a democratically elected president through a regular electoral process is unacceptable,” AU Commission head Moussa Faki Mahamat said, joining a chorus of concern about 63-year-old Bazoum.

“Concordant sources attest to a worrying deterioration of conditions,” Faki said.

EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have also spoken out about the worsening conditions that Bazoum and his family are living under.

It was reported on Wednesday that Bazoum was being kept in isolation and forced to eat plain rice and pasta, with no access to medicines.
Faki also expressed his “strong support” for the decisions adopted by the Economic Community of West African States, which on Thursday approved the deployment of a standby force to restore constitutional order in Niger.

An attempt this week to send a joint team of ECOWAS, UN, and AU representatives to Niger’s capital Niamey was rejected by the coup leaders.

Fears for Bazoum
The European Union joined others in sounding the alarm for Bazoum yesterday.

“Bazoum and his family, according to the latest information, have been deprived of food, electricity and medical care for several days,” said EU Foreign Policy Chief, Josep Borrell.

UN rights chief Volker Turk said Bazoum’s reported detention conditions “could amount to inhuman and degrading treatment, in violation of international human rights law.”

The AU echoed the concern, saying “such treatment of a democratically elected president is unacceptable”.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned that the “coup plotters must face harsh consequences should anything happen” to Bazoum or his family.

A source close to Bazoum said “he’s OK, but the conditions are very difficult,” adding that the coup leaders had brandished the threat of assaulting him in the event of military intervention.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it had spoken to Bazoum earlier this week. The 63-year-old described the treatment of him, his wife and their 20-year-old son as “inhuman and cruel”, HRW said.

“I’m not allowed to receive my family members or my friends who have been bringing food and other supplies to us,” the group quoted him as saying.

“My son is sick, has a serious heart condition, and needs to see a doctor,” he was quoted as saying. “They’ve refused to let him get medical treatment.”

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