Niger’s president Mohamed Bazoum, who was overthrown in a coup at the end of July and accused by the military of trying to escape, is in Niamey with his wife and son and is in good health, AFP learned on Sunday from his entourage.
“He is at the presidential residence (in Niamey) with his wife and son and is doing well,” one of his relatives told AFP, adding that he had only been able to make one phone call to say that he was well with his family.
She added that his doctor had been able to visit him and “bring him food”.
On Thursday evening, the military regime in Niamey had claimed that Mohamed Bazoum had “attempted to escape” with his family and others, by trying to take “helicopters belonging to a foreign power” to Nigeria on the outskirts of Niamey.
The regime stated that the attempt had failed and that “the main perpetrators and some of their accomplices” had been arrested.
These “trumped-up” accusations were “vigorously” denied on Friday by a group of Mr Bazoum’s lawyers, who claimed that he was being held “incommunicado”, raising concerns about his fate.
French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his “deep concern at the uncertain situation” of Mohamed Bazoum and called for “his immediate release, as well as that of his wife and son”.
Since the coup that overthrew him on 26 July, Mohamed Bazoum has been held captive and refuses to tender his resignation.
On 18 September, he appealed to the West African courts for his release and the restoration of constitutional order in Niger.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which had considered military intervention to restore Mr Bazoum to office immediately after the coup d’état, finally decided against it.
A former colonial power and privileged ally of the overthrown president’s regime in its fight against the jihadist groups that have struck Niger, France was forced two months after the coup to announce the withdrawal of its 1,400 soldiers from Niger by the end of the year.
French soldiers had previously been forced to withdraw from neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso, also ruled by military putschists and plagued by jihadist violence