Elected Niger President Mohamed Bazoum said Thursday that if a coup attempt to depose him is successful, “it will have devastating consequences for our country, our region and the entire world.”
In a column in The Washington Post, Bazoum called on “the US government and the entire international community to help us restore our constitutional order.”
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The appeal was Bazoum’s first lengthy statement since his presidential guard detained him on July 26 and took control of the Niger government.
“I write this as a hostage,” Bazoum wrote.
“Niger is under attack from a military junta… and I am just one of hundreds of citizens who have been arbitrarily and illegally imprisoned.”
“This coup must end, and the junta must free everyone they have unlawfully arrested,” he wrote.
Bazoum, who came to power after democratic elections in 2021, said his country had been a bulwark of hope in a region increasingly buffeted by extremism and ruled by military juntas.
“In Africa’s troubled Sahel region, Niger stands as the last bastion of respect for human rights amid the authoritarian movements that have overtaken some of our neighbors,” he wrote.
He warned that Niger’s neighbors have increasingly invited in “criminal Russian mercenaries such as the Wagner Group at the expense of their people’s rights and dignity.”
“The entire Sahel region,” he said, “could fall to Russian influence via the Wagner Group, whose brutal terrorism has been on full display in Ukraine.”
Terrorist movements like Boko Haram, he added, “will surely take advantage of Niger’s instability, using our country as a staging ground to attack neighboring countries and undermine peace, safety and freedom around the world.”