The African Union (AU) has demanded the prompt release of President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger, who was deposed in a coup at the conclusion of July.
“The president of the Commission [of the African Union] calls for the immediate release of President Bazoum,” Commission President Moussa Faki Mahamat said in a statement published on Friday.
He added that the ousted leader is being held “in worryingly poor conditions.”
He also called on the “international community to unite their efforts to save the moral and physical integrity of President Mohamed Bazoum.”
Bazoum was removed from office on July 26, when Nigerien military forces carried out a coup and placed him under arrest.
The AU said on Friday that it was concerned about “the deterioration of President Mohamed Bazoum’s detention conditions.”
“Such a treatment of a president elected democratically through a regular democratic process is unacceptable,” the statement added.
Moussa Faki also said that the AU supported the West African group of states ECOWAS in its dealing with the situation in Niger.
ECOWAS said on Thursday that its forces were on “standby,” as it mulled the option of intervening in Niger as the military junta named its new government.
DW spoke to Nina Wilen, the director of the Africa Program at the Brussels-based think tank Royal Institute for International Relations, about possible regional repercussions of the recent coup in Niger.
Asked whether the current situation could turn into a war, particularly if ECOWAS intervenes, Wilen said the “stakes are very high,” partly in view of the reactions of other countries in the region.
“Some of the ECOWAS members who are currently suspended precisely because they have gone through a military coup in recent years, Mali and Burkina Faso, have declared that they will see such a military intervention as a declaration of war against their own states and will defend Niger,” she said.
“We’re also wondering what constitutional order can be reinstated if there is such an intervention [by ECOWAS],” she said, adding, “This civil-military imbalance is very much ingrained in the history of Niger.”
Christoph Schmid, a member of the German Bundestag for the Social Democrats (SPD), spoke to DW about the coup’s impact on German-Nigerien relations.
“There can be partnering mission without a partner,” Schmidt said, “and our partner is the elected government of Niger.”
“In the long term, there are some goals we have to achieve, we have to rethink our style of strategy and we have to get much more intelligence information within the countries we engage in,” he told DW.
Schmid acknowledged that Germany was taken “completely by surprise” when the coup happened, saying that Niger had long been considered a stable partner in the region.