International organizations and leaders had condemned the conditions of ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, who was been held in his official residence by Niger’s junta. Meanwhile, ECOWAS deferred a Saturday meeting.
Ousted Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum received a medical visit Saturday, his entourage said.
Bazoum’s government was toppled in a coup on July 26.
The ensuing junta has since held him, his wife and his son in custody at his official residence in Niger’s capital, Niamey.
Bazoum’s doctor told Radio France Internationale (RFI) following the visit: “the president’s morale is high.”
A member of Bazoum’s entourage told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency: “He’s fine, given the situation.”
International condemnation of Bazoum’s conditions
UN rights chief Volker Turk said Bazoum’s condition “could amount to inhuman and degrading treatment, in violation of international human rights law.”
The African Union also warned of the “worryingly poor conditions” Bazoum was being held in and urged his immediate release.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was “dismayed” by the military’s refusal to release Bazoum’s family as a “demonstration of goodwill.”
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it had spoken to the ousted president earlier this week. The organization cited Bazoum as saying that the treatment of him and his family was “inhuman and cruel.”
“I’m not allowed to receive my family members (or) my friends who have been bringing food and other supplies to us,” HRW quoted him as saying.
“My son is sick, has a serious heart condition, and needs to see a doctor,” he said. “They’ve refused to let him get medical treatment.”
The CNN broadcaster reported last week that Bazoum was being kept isolated and fed dry rice and pasta.
West African leaders defer Niger meeting
Chiefs of staff of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had been due to meet in Ghana’s capital Accra on Saturday.
The bloc said the meeting had been indefinitely suspended for “technical reasons.”
AFP cited unnamed sources as saying that the meeting was set up to inform the ECOWAS’ leaders about the “best options” for activating and deploying its standby force.
The bloc had previously issued an ultimatum to return Bazoum to power, which expired on August 6.
“The military option seriously envisaged by ECOWAS is not a war against Niger and its people but a police operation against hostage takers and their accomplices,” Niger’s Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou said.
Meanwhile, an ECOWAS Parliament spokesperson said the bloc aims to send a parliamentary committee to Niger to meet coup leaders.
sdi/jcg (AFP, Lusa, Reuters)