Niger’s military rulers claim the ousted president attempted to flee custody

The former president Mohamed Bazoum was ousted in a coup in July and was being held at the presidential palace. Photograph: Michel Euler/AP

Niger’s military rulers have thwarted an escape attempt by the ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum, who was overthrown in a coup in July, according to the regime’s spokesperson, Amadou Abdramane. The attempt involved Bazoum, his family, cooks, and security personnel trying to flee from his place of detention. Although the escape failed, some of those involved were arrested, and an investigation is underway.

Abdramane stated that the plan involved Bazoum reaching a hideout near Niger’s capital, Niamey, and then using foreign helicopters to fly towards Nigeria. He criticized Bazoum’s “irresponsible attitude.” Bazoum had been refusing to resign since his ousting and was initially held at his residence in the presidential palace. However, Abdramane did not disclose their current location.

Bazoum’s lawyers had previously filed a legal case with a West African court and intended to take his case to the UN human rights council. The military justified their coup by citing the deteriorating security situation in Niger due to jihadist attacks.

Niger has been grappling with two jihadist insurgencies, one stemming from the conflict in neighboring Nigeria and the other involving militants from Mali and Burkina Faso. In response to a deadly attack, Niger declared three days of national mourning, during which the first group of French soldiers, expelled by the post-coup military rulers, arrived in Chad for their withdrawal to France. France had supported Bazoum and called for his release, a stance shared by various countries and organizations.

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