After almost twenty-one days of beseeching the United States and other allied nations for assistance in reinstating Niger’s President, supporters of the democratically elected leader are now making a more straightforward appeal: to save his life.
President Mohamed Bazoum, who heads the sole remaining Western-allied democracy in an expansive stretch encompassing Africa’s Sahara and Sahel regions, is currently confined with his family in an unilluminated basement within his presidential compound. The junta that ousted him has cut off their access to essential supplies like food, electricity, and cooking gas, revealed Niger’s ambassador to the United States.
Niger’s ambassador, Mamadou Kiari Liman-Tinguiri, who has a deep association with the detained leader spanning three decades, recently shared his concerns about the President’s deteriorating state. The ambassador maintains regular communication with Bazoum, describing how the junta’s intent seems to be to deprive the President of sustenance, effectively “killing him.”
Liman-Tinguiri criticized this course of action, labeling it inhumane and an unacceptable state of affairs for the modern world. He stressed that such treatment should not be tolerated in the year 2023.
On a positive note, a doctor was allowed to visit the President’s family for the first time, and some food was brought in by his captors. However, specific details about this development were not disclosed by a presidential adviser, who spoke anonymously.
The President currently resides in the dimly lit basement, only answering calls from those he recognizes or desires to speak with. Despite his predicament, Bazoum maintains contact with his ambassador, discussing matters multiple times a day. However, Bazoum has not been seen in public since July 26, when military presence and announcements of a power shift disrupted his normal routine.
International entities like the United States and the United Nations have voiced repeated apprehension regarding Bazoum’s deteriorating condition while in custody. They have also cautioned the junta that they would be held accountable for the wellbeing of the President and his family.
On another note, Human Rights Watch engaged directly with the detained President and individuals in his inner circle, finding accounts of mistreatment similar to those reported. However, an activist supporting Niger’s new military rulers contested these reports, asserting that Bazoum’s situation is not as dire as depicted. Insa Garba Saidou, who claims to have contact with junta members, emphasized that Bazoum is safe in his palace with access to his phone and is not in any danger.