The ousted president of Niger is confronting dwindling food supplies and increasingly dire circumstances, having been deposed in a military coup and placed under house arrest for the past two weeks, an advisor informed The Associated Press on Wednesday.
President Mohamed Bazoum, who was democratically elected as the leader of the West African nation, has been confined with his wife and son to the presidential palace in Niamey since mutinous soldiers moved against him on July 26.
The family is enduring life without electricity and is left with only rice and canned goods for sustenance, according to the advisor. Despite his current good health, Bazoum is resolute in not resigning. The advisor spoke anonymously, as they were not authorized to discuss the sensitive situation with the media.
Bazoum’s political party has verified the living conditions of the president and his family, further disclosing that they lack access to running water.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken engaged in a conversation with Bazoum on Tuesday regarding recent diplomatic endeavors. Blinken stressed the paramount importance of the safety and security of President Bazoum and his family.
Meanwhile, the new military junta in Niger has taken steps to consolidate its grip on power and has rejected international mediation efforts.
Introduction of a New Prime Minister
The junta recently announced Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine as the new prime minister. Zeine is a civilian economist and a former economy and finance minister who stepped down following a previous coup in 2010 that toppled the government of that era. He later held a position at the African Development Bank.
The junta’s refusal to admit mediation teams from international bodies like the United Nations, the African Union, and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS has been based on security concerns. ECOWAS had threatened to employ military force if the junta didn’t reinstate Bazoum by a specified deadline, a threat that was ignored by the junta.
The coup, which transpired due to purported concerns about jihadi violence in the Sahel region, has been met with skepticism from analysts and diplomats who view it as a consequence of a power struggle between the president and the head of his presidential guard, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani.
This coup has implications for Niger’s relationship with Western countries, who regarded it as a democratic partner in the fight against extremism in the region. It also possesses significance as a vital supplier of uranium.
The Fallout and Impact
Niger’s partners have warned of discontinuing significant military assistance if the country does not return to constitutional governance.
While the political crisis persists, the country’s population of 25 million is bearing the brunt. Niger is already among the world’s poorest nations, and the crisis is compounding the hardships faced by its citizens.
Harsh economic and travel sanctions imposed by ECOWAS have led to increased food prices and logistical challenges in getting essential supplies into the country.