Wed. Dec 6th, 2023

Niger : the military regime claims that Mohamed Bazoum tried in vain to escape

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The president deposed Mohamed Bazoum. (Archive photo)

Agence France-Presse

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The military regime, which came to power through a coup d'état at the end of July, affirmed Thursday evening that the deposed president Mohamed Bazoum, held prisoner since the putsch, tried in vain “to escape”, and that several people were arrested.

Thursday, around 3 a.m., deposed president Mohamed Bazoum accompanied by his family, his two cooks, and two security elements tried to escape from his place of detention, declared the regime's spokesperson, Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane, on national television.

He specified that this attempt had failed and that the main perpetrators and some of their accomplices had been arrested. An investigation was also opened.

According to Mr. Abdramane, Mohamed Bazoum's escape plan aimed first at x27;taken to a hideout on the outskirts of Niamey, before borrowing helicopters belonging to a foreign power, without specifying which one, towards Nigeria.

Denouncing the irresponsible attitude of Mr. Bazoum, he did not specify where the deposed president was on Thursday evening. On Thursday, the first French soldiers to leave their bases in Niger – a requirement of the regime which has terrible relations with Paris – arrived by road in N'Djamena, capital of neighboring Chad.

Departing from Niamey, the convoy left Niger safely and in coordination with Nigerien forces, Colonel Pierre Gaudillière, spokesperson for the French general staff, told AFP on Thursday.

It arrived safely in N'Djamena after 10 days of travel.

Air rotations from Chad to France will be organized in the coming days, added the spokesperson.

Driven out of Niger, the French army must evacuate men and equipment mainly by land to Chad and then probably Cameroon, before their repatriation to France. A route of more than 3,000 km, part of which crosses hostile zones where jihadist groups are active in places.

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General Abdourahmane Tiani, the new strongman of Niger

The Chadian army indicated that it would escort the convoys to the Cameroonian border. N'Djamena is home to the command of French operations in the Sahel with around a thousand French soldiers.

According to Colonel Gaudillière, half of the sites of forward bases in Ouallam and Ayorou (north-west Niger), in the so-called three border zone with Burkina Faso and Mali, were emptied.

The French presence in the Sahel has continued to decline since 2020. Successive coups in Mali, Burkina Faso and finally in Niger have put an end to the anti-jihadist force Barkhane deployed since 2014 in Mali, which counted up to 27 ;to 5,500 soldiers deployed in the area.

Barkhane has crystallized the anti-French sentiment of part of African public opinion, raising the risk of demonstrations along the convoys.

France has supported deposed President Mohamed Bazoum since the July 26 coup and has called for his release like many countries and organizations. But the military regime remains inflexible for the time being.

Mr. Bazoum still refuses to resign and is held prisoner in his residence in the presidential palace with his wife Haziza and his son Salem.

On September 18, he took legal action in West Africa to request his release and the restoration of constitutional order in Niger.

The country has also been hit by international economic sanctions since the coup and many states have suspended their budgetary aid.

Thursday, x27;European Union, which itself suspended its aid, announced the establishment of a humanitarian airlift transporting essential medicines and medical supplies to Niamey.

Four flights will be chartered to deliver 58 tonnes of essential health supplies to strengthen the humanitarian response in the country, where stocks of vital products are rapidly running out.

A first flight has already arrived in the Nigerien capital, specifies the EU.


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