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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Niger’s Detained President, Mohamed Bazoum, Pleads for U.S. Assist

The president of Niger, who has been detained by his personal guards since final week, has known as on the USA and different allies to assist restore constitutional order within the West African nation, warning that assaults from jihadist teams may enhance and that Russia may increase its affect within the area if the coup leaders stay in energy.

The plea got here simply days earlier than a deadline that different West African nations have given in a menace to go to struggle towards the coup leaders, regardless of skepticism that the nations will take navy motion.

“I write this as a hostage,” President Mohamed Bazoum stated in an opinion essay printed in The Washington Put up on Thursday night. “Niger is underneath assault from a navy junta that’s attempting to overthrow our democracy.”

Since Mr. Bazoum was detained on July 26, the USA and a few European nations have partly suspended ties with Niger, a rustic that relies upon closely on international help. The Nigerien public has already confronted energy cuts and money shortages amid financial sanctions imposed by its neighbors in response to the coup, and a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in humanitarian help might be endangered. Niger, a rustic of 25 million, is among the many world’s poorest.

For a pacesetter faraway from energy 9 days earlier, Mr. Bazoum was in a extremely uncommon state of affairs on Friday: In contrast to different ousted leaders within the area in recent times, he has refused to formally resign, and he and his household are being held in his personal residence by members of his personal presidential guard.

He has spoken by phone with officers together with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and President Emmanuel Macron of France. And on Sunday, President Mahamat Idriss Déby of neighboring Chad, who visited him, posted {a photograph} of the smiling imprisoned president on social media.

Mr. Bazoum, who’s 63, didn’t element in his essay the situations during which he was being detained, or how he had been in a position to write the textual content.

Senior Nigerien diplomats nonetheless name Mr. Bazoum their boss, and a few of his shut advisers have spoken with reporters because the coup try. However previously few days their telephones have gone silent amid a wave of arrests of presidency officers and senior members of his occasion.

“This isn’t one other coup as ordinary,” Kiari Liman-Tinguiri, Niger’s ambassador to the USA, stated in an interview this week.

Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, who claims to be in command of Niger, stated in a tv handle on Wednesday that he had seized energy to revive safety and combat corruption.

The Financial Neighborhood of West African States, a regional bloc often known as ECOWAS, has given him an ultimatum handy again energy earlier than Monday. And a number of other nations have stated they’re able to ship troops for a navy intervention if Niger doesn’t return to democratic rule.

However analysts have stated {that a} navy intervention is unlikely, not less than within the brief time period, and lots of consultants say Mr. Bazoum is unlikely to be reinstalled in energy. West African protection chiefs gathered in Nigeria this week stated {that a} navy intervention was “the final resort.”

Since his election in 2021, Mr. Bazoum had strengthened partnerships with the USA and Europe, in distinction with neighboring nations like Burkina Faso and Mali which have moved nearer to Russia.

Beneath his watch, assaults on civilians by militant teams have decreased, and Niger’s economic system grew 7 % final yr. As Mr. Bazoum stated in his essay, “International help makes up 40 % of our nationwide price range, but it surely won’t be delivered if the coup succeeds.”

He additionally stated that a whole lot of individuals had been imprisoned because the coup, a declare that might not be independently verified and that has not been documented publicly.

Mr. Bazoum added that neighboring nations like Burkina Faso and Mali which might be run by navy officers have been faring worse on safety points. He accused them of using “prison Russian mercenaries such because the Wagner Group on the expense of their folks’s rights and dignity.”

On Wednesday, one of many Nigerien coup leaders visited Burkina Faso and Mali.

The Wagner group has about 1,500 troops in Mali, allied with the navy regime there. Regardless of rumors, there isn’t any proof that Burkina Faso’s junta leaders have labored with the group. Its founder, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, has praised the coup in Niger and supplied Wagner’s companies to the brand new rulers, though it’s unclear what operational management he nonetheless has over the group in Africa after his failed mutiny in Russia in June.

Some African leaders have warned concerning the menace posed by Wagner on the continent, though some analysts warning that these leaders could also be exaggerating the group’s affect within the area to draw Western assist. Wagner mercenaries have been deployed in African nations together with Libya, Mali and Sudan.

As of Friday morning, Nigerien public tv had but to say Mr. Bazoum’s essay.

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