Ousted Niger leader Bazoum appeals to W. Africa court to free him

The former president of Niger, who was ousted in a coup, has requested his release through the West African bloc’s court, as confirmed by his attorney on Wednesday.

Mohamed Bazoum was toppled by the military on July 26 and, along with his wife and child, has been under house arrest since then.

On September 18, he initiated legal proceedings with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court, according to Seydou Diagne, his Senegalese attorney.

The lawsuit invokes his “arbitrary arrest” and “violation of freedom of movement”, Diagne said.

“We request… in view of the violation of political rights, that the State of Niger be ordered to immediately restore constitutional order by handing over power to President Bazoum, who must continue to exercise it until the end of his mandate.”

In addition to imposing substantial sanctions on Niger, ECOWAS has cautioned that it might consider military intervention in Niger should diplomatic attempts to reinstate Bazoum prove ineffective.

Niger’s coup unfolded in an area plagued by a jihadist insurgency, mirroring coups in nearby Mali and Burkina Faso.

If the court rules in favour of Bazoum, “Niger has the legal obligation to execute the decision”, Diagne said.

The leaders of Niger’s coup have announced their plans to “prosecute” the democratically elected Bazoum with “high treason and undermining internal and external security”.

On Wednesday, the European Union (EU) reaffirmed its backing for ECOWAS’s stance and issued a renewed appeal for the “immediate and unconditional release” of Bazoum and his family.

“The EU position is clear and unchanged: the EU does not recognise authorities emanating from the putsch. President Bazoum remains the sole legitimate president of Niger,” EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said.

These statements were made one day after Niger’s military-appointed Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine summoned the EU ambassador to Niamey, Salvador Pinto da Franca.

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