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UN chief expresses concern over Niger leader’s detention conditions

The United Nations chief has expressed grave concern over what he called the “deplorable” conditions of Niger leader Mohamed Bazoum’s detainment and called for his release.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday denounced “the deplorable living conditions that President Bazoum and his family are reported to be living under,” according to a UN statement.

CNN reported that Bazoum was being kept isolated and forced to eat dry rice and pasta by the rebels who overthrew him in a coup late last month.

In a series of text messages Bazoum sent to a friend, the president said he had been “deprived of all human contact since Friday”, with no one supplying him food or medicine, the network reported.

Guterres “reiterates his concern over the health and safety of the President and his family and once again calls for his immediate, unconditional release and his reinstatement as Head of State,” the UN chief’s spokesman said in a statement.

‘Cruel’, ‘inhumane’ conditions

Bazoum was ousted on July 26 in a military coup led by Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, the former commander of Niger’s presidential guard, who has declared himself the head of a transitional government.

Since then, Bazoum has reportedly been held hostage at the presidential palace in the capital Niamey.

He and his family are being detained under “cruel” and “inhumane” conditions without access to running water, electricity, fresh goods or doctors, his Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism-Tarayya said in a statement.

The junta did not immediately comment on Bazoum’s living conditions.

But denouncing the living conditions, the party called for the intervention of the international community to secure his freedom from house arrest and restore constitutional order.

The junta has vowed that it will not bow to pressure to cede power as demanded by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

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