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Niger: overthrown president Mohamed Bazoum "determined to fight for democracy"

Niger: overthrown president Mohamed Bazoum "determined to fight for democracy"
Mohamed Bazoum welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron for a   -  
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Michel Euler/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved


Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum, overthrown by a coup d'état on July 26 and held prisoner ever since, is not resigning and is "determined to fight to safeguard democracy", his daughter assures us in an open letter published in the French daily Le Figaro.

In the letter, Zazia Bazoum Mohamed, who lives in Paris, calls for the release of her father, held captive in the presidential palace, and the "restoration of constitutional order" in Niger.

She recalls that her father was "democratically elected", that "he is the people's choice", and believes that he "has made a positive mark, both nationally and internationally".

"He has made the fight against corruption and bad governance his main battleground", she continues, underlining the progress made on the economic front.

"Today, taken hostage with his family, he is not resigning because he holds democratic values dear and has always fought against military regimes," she adds. "He fights and sacrifices himself for the future of our dear country, Niger, for the Sahel and for the whole of West Africa".

She points out that her father could have given up, "spared his family this suffering" and "found an important international position". "But he decided to fight to safeguard democracy in Niger".

The soldiers who overthrew President Bazoum, who is due to be elected in 2021, mainly justified their coup by the "deteriorating security situation".

His daughter denounces these "totally fallacious" arguments.

"All the terrorist attacks denounced by the hostage-takers took place before my father was president and, better still, all the hostage-takers and their accomplices were already part of the system they denounce", she writes.

What's more, she points out, "Since they took my country, hostage, we have watched helplessly and sadly as terrorist attacks have increased at an alarming rate: more than seven attacks in three weeks, with many deaths".

A way out of the crisis is difficult, as the countries of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) are demanding the reinstatement of Mohamed Bazoum and his immediate release, which the military are refusing.

Ecowas has threatened military intervention but has favored diplomatic channels, to no avail so far.

"This injustice against my family and against Niger makes me wonder if there isn't a link with the fact that Niger was due to become an oil-exporting country in three months' time", says Zazia Bazoum Mohamed.

According to her, "the hostage-takers and their accomplices know that no one will benefit personally from the oil windfall" with her father at the head of the country. Mohamed Bazoum "will always ensure that this wealth benefits the people of Niger and not an elite that believes itself superior to Nigeriens", she assures.

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