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Niger's ousted President Bazoum attempts to escape detainment, ruling junta thwarts effort

According to the junta, Bazoum planned to flee to the outskirts of Niamey and fly to Nigeria aboard two helicopters with his family and others. The ousted President has been held in captivity without access to electricity and water since the July coup.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Niamey (Niger) Published on: October 20, 2023 17:44 IST
Niger's ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.
Image Source : AP/FILE Niger's ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.

Niger's ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, who has been in the captivity of the ruling military junta for almost three months, reportedly made an escape attempt overnight with his family members.

However, his escape attempt was thwarted by the junta. Col Maj Amadou Abdramane in a communique said that Bazoum tried to reach a waiting vehicle at around 3 am in the night to take him towards the outskirts of the capital Niamey, along with his family, two cooks and security personnel.

They were to be flown to Nigeria aboard "two helicopters belonging to a foreign power", said the junta leader. “This plan to destabilise our country was thwarted,” Abdramane said, adding that the main perpetrators had been arrested and an investigation has already been opened by the public prosecutor.

Bazoum has been under house arrest with his wife and son since the Niger military overthrew his government in a coup on July 26. He and his family have been denied access to basic facilities like electricity and water.

The United States has formally declared that the ousting of Bazoum was a coup, suspending hundreds of millions of dollars in aid as well as military assistance and training.

Additionally, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the withdrawal of around 1,500 French troops and its envoy to Niger from the junta-controlled African country last month.

France had repeatedly refused an order from the junta regime in Niger for its ambassador Sylvain Itte to leave the country, saying it does not recognise the coup leaders as legitimate and called for the reinstatement of ousted President Mohamed Bazoum. Macron also alleged that French diplomats were surviving on military rations as they were 'held hostage' in the embassy.

Meanwhile, Niger remains heavily sanctioned by Western and regional African countries. The military government accused United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of obstructing the country's full participation of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly in New York to "appease France and its allies".

(with AP inputs)

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