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Bazoum and family strong and healthy

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By Abraham Adekunle

Deposed Niger past president back in custody after foiled escape plan.

The military government of Niger Republic has announced that Niger deposed president, Mohamed Bazoum, who was overthrown in a coup at the end of July 2023 and accused by the military of trying to escape, is in Niamey with his wife and son. The media also learned that he and his family were in good health in the country’s capital. “He is at the presidential residence (in Niamey) with his wife and son and is doing well,” one of his relatives told the media.

Also, the relative said 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 October 19, 2023, 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.

ECOWAS had decided against invading landlocked Niger.

As well, 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 October 20, 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 July 26, 2023, Mohamed Bazoum has been held captive and refuses to tender his resignation. On September 18, 2023, 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. 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.

Africa has experienced seven coups in just three years.

Previously, French soldiers had been forced to withdraw from neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso, also ruled by military putschists and plagued by jihadist violence. Critics had expressed deep concerns over the rate at which coups were spreading in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the last three years, there have been seven military coups in Africa. In August 2020, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was overthrown by the Malian military. But on May 24, 2021, the military arrested the president and the prime minister. Then, Colonel Assimi Goïta was inaugurated in June as transitional president.

In Guinea, President Alpha Condé was overthrown by a military coup on September 5, 2021. Then on October 1, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya became president and promised to return the place to elected civilians by the end of 2024. On October 25, 2021, soldiers led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane chased out the transitional civilian leaders in Sudan, who were supposed to lead the country towards democracy after 30 years of dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir, who was himself deposed in 2019. There has been war in the country since April 2023.

Is this the era of Africans taking back their continent from neo-colonialists?

There were putsches in Burkina Faso in eight months. On January 24, 2022, President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was ousted from power by the military, and Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was inaugurated president in February. On September 30, Damiba was in turn dismissed from his position by the military, and Captain Ibrahim Traoré was invested as transitional president until a presidential election scheduled for July 2024. Of course, Niger coup makes it the seventh. These make one wonder if this is finally the time that Africans are waking up and pushing against neo-colonialism and if military dictatorship is the right way to achieve it.

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