While the world is occupied somewhere else, with all eyes on the Middle East, the ‘powder keg’ Africa continues with a lit fuse.
In Niger, the military junta went on TV to state that it had foiled an attempted escape by the deposed and incarcerated former President, Mohamed Bazoum.
A spokesman for the junta said that the former president ‘attempted to flee in the night with his family, cooks and security’.
As a result, Bazoum is now being held in a secret location.
“The junta said late on Thursday that Bazoum and his family, with the help of accomplices in the security forces, had planned to drive a vehicle to the outskirts of the capital Niamey and catch a helicopter ride to neighboring Nigeria.”
His lawyers deny that he ever tried to escape.
“‘We energetically reject these made-up accusations against President Bazoum’, Mohamed Seydou Diagne, one of Bazoum’s lawyers, said in the statement, adding that the junta had ‘crossed another red line with the secret detention’.”
According to his lawyers, Bazoum has no access to lawyers or the outside world.
“They were previously kept in the presidential residence in the capital Niamey where electricity had been cut since Aug. 2, and only one doctor could visit them every second day to take them supplies, they said.
[…] The lawyers demanded that the junta show proof that the president and wife and son were alive.”
One of the nations that underwent military coups recently, Niger is part of West Africa’s Sahel – a semi-arid region stretching from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, south of the Sahara Desert.
Niger’s coup was one of five sweeping the Sahel in the last three years.
“The attempted [Bazoum] escape happened around 03:00 (02:00 GMT) on Thursday, military spokesman Amadou Abdramane said on state television.
‘The ousted President Mohamed Bazoum and his family, his two cooks and two security elements, tried to escape from his place of detention’, he said.”
The main perpetrators and some of the accomplices were arrested.
“The elaborate plan involved Mr Bazoum getting to a hideout on the outskirts of the capital Niamey, Mr Abdramane said.
The group had then planned to fly out on helicopters ‘belonging to a foreign power’ towards Nigeria, he added, denouncing Mr Bazoum’s ‘irresponsible attitude’.”
It is not clear where Bazoum and his group are being held. He has so far refused to officially resign.
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