Son of President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger released by junta

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FILE PHOTO: Mohamed Bazoum, who was ousted as Niger's president in a coup on July 26, speaks during the commissioning of Dangote Petroleum refinery in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria May 22, 2023. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja/File Photo

On Monday, the military tribunal in Niger provisionally released Salem Mohamed Bazoum, the son of ousted President Mohamed Bazoum. He had been detained alongside his father since the July 26 putsch.

The 23-year-old had been detained with his parents at the presidential residence in Niamey since his father’s removal in a military coup on July 26, one of eight such coups in West and Central Africa since 2020. The coup faced condemnation, resulted in ECOWAS sanctions, and sparked global calls for the release of Bazoum and a return to democratic governance.

Details about the fate of Salem’s parents were not provided by the tribunal, his mother Hadiza Bazoum also being held hostage in the presidential palace. Last month, the ECOWAS Court of Justice deemed the family’s detention arbitrary, ordering Bazoum’s reinstatement. The junta, given one month to comply, faces an irrevocable decision by the court. Bazoum and his son were indicted post-coup, with Salem charged with conspiracy to undermine the state’s authority or security.

The family, held hostage by the military junta that seized power over five months ago, had been lacking access to basic amenities like running water and electricity, faced hardships, as reported by Bazoum’s party and relatives, and Human Rights Watch. Their lawyers expressed concerns over the lack of meetings with a magistrate and the absence of information regarding legal proceedings against them.

Talks between ECOWAS and Niger’s junta leader, Abdourahamane Tiani, are being mediated by the Togolese President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, with ECOWAS repeatedly calling for the release and safe passage of the President and his wife.

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