NIAMEY: Niger’s detained president was seen by his doctor on Saturday (Aug 12), his entourage said amid mounting concern for his condition, while Nigerian religious leaders met the officers who seized power last month to try to defuse the crisis.
The Muslim leaders visited the capital Niamey with the blessing of Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, head of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, a source close to the delegation told AFP.
ECOWAS has approved the deployment of a “standby force to restore constitutional order” in Niger as soon as possible, but scrapped a Saturday crisis meeting on the coup that deposed Mohamed Bazoum.
Bazoum, 63, was toppled on Jul 26 by his presidential guard, which has since held him and his family at his official Niamey residence.
The European Union, the African Union and the United Nations joined others in sounding the alarm for Bazoum on Friday after reports described worsening detention conditions.
Bazoum “had a visit by his doctor today”, a member of his entourage told AFP, adding the physician had also brought food for Bazoum, his wife and son.
“He’s fine, given the situation,” the source added.
Human Rights Watch said it had spoken with Bazoum earlier this week. The ousted leader had described the treatment of himself, his wife and their unwell 20-year-old son as “inhuman and cruel”, HRW said.
“My son is sick, has a serious heart condition, and needs to see a doctor,” the group quoted him as saying. “They’ve refused to let him get medical treatment.”
UN rights chief Volker Turk on Friday said Bazoum’s reported detention conditions “could amount to inhuman and degrading treatment, in violation of international human rights law”.
Top US diplomat Antony Blinken said he was “dismayed” by the military’s refusal to release Bazoum’s family as a “demonstration of goodwill”.