The former president of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, was overthrown in a coup in July, and his attempt to flee their captivity was thwarted, according to the country’s military authorities on Thursday.
The regime’s spokesman, Amadou Abdramane, stated on state television that “the ousted president Mohamed Bazoum and his family, his two cooks and two security elements, tried to escape from his place of detention at around three in the morning.”
He said in the late-night programme on Thursday that “the main actors and some of the accomplices” were detained after the escape attempt failed.
An investigation has also been launched.
The escape plan had involved Bazoum at first getting to a hideout on the outskirts of the capital Niamey, said Abdramane.
They had then planned to fly out on helicopters “belonging to a foreign power” towards Nigeria, he added, denouncing Bazoum’s “irresponsible attitude”.
Since he was toppled by the military on July 26, Bazoum has refused to resign. Until now, he had been held at his residence in the heart of the presidential palace along with his wife Haziza and son Salem.
Abdramane did not say where they were being held now.
Bazoum sued his deposers in September, allegedly, in a court of the Economic Community of West African States, according to his lawyers.
They said they would also present his case to the UN Human Rights Council.
The army officers that overthrew Bazoum gave the excuse that the nation’s security was deteriorating due to attacks by Islamists.
In Niger, there are now two active jihadist insurgencies: one is a bleedover from a long-running conflict in neighbouring Nigeria into the southeast of the country, and the other is an attack by militants crossing into Niger from Mali and Burkina Faso into the west of the country.
At the start of the month, Niger held three days of national mourning after 29 soldiers were killed in a suspected jihadist attack, the deadliest since the military took power in July.
On Thursday, the first group of French soldiers, ordered out of Niger by its post-coup military rulers, arrived by road in N’Djamena, the capital of neighbouring Chad.
The convoy “has arrived without any particular problems” in N’Djamena after 10 days on the road and in coordination with Nigerien forces, army spokesman Pierre Gaudilliere told AFP.
The army withdrawal is scheduled to be finished by the end of December, and the troops will fly out of Chad to France.
In order to combat fighters associated with the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda, over 1,400 soldiers were stationed in the capital Niamey and western Niger. They brought with them fighter jets, drones, helicopters, and armoured vehicles in addition to the supplies they needed.
Like many other nations and groups, France has stood with President Bazoum since the coup and is advocating for his release. However, for the time being, the military administration is unyielding.