UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Niger’s President Mohammed Buzoum, who is being held captive by military officers who have declared a coup.
After members of the president’s own guard detained him inside his offices in the capital Niamey, a group of officers from all branches of the military made the television announcement late on Wednesday.
According to news reports, the attempted coup does not have the support of the entire military, but the army chief has stated his support for the move.
In an address to reporters at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Guterres strongly condemned the attempted military takeover and the assault on the democratically elected government.
The UN backs the West African bloc ECOWAS and the African Union (AU) in their efforts to restore democracy.
On Thursday, President Bazoum issued his own defiant tweet, saying that “the hard-won achievements would be safeguarded.” All Nigerians who value democracy and freedom will take care of it.
Guterres said he spoke with the president on Wednesday to express the UN’s complete support.
In a direct address to the coup plotters in Niger, the UN Secretary-General demanded that they stop obstructing democratic governance and respect the rule of law
Following coups in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso in recent years, which were prompted by the rise of jihadist terrorist groups throughout the Sahel region, the secretary-general stated that the events in Niamey were part of a “disturbing trend.”
Successive unconstitutional changes of government are having terrible effects on the development and lives of civilian populations.
This is particularly glaring in countries already affected by conflict, violent extremism and terrorism, as well as the devastating effects of climate change.
The UN’s human rights chief Volker Türk tweeted that he was “shocked and distressed” by the coup attempt, adding that every step must be taken to restore constitutional order.