According to media reports, the Nigerian president and his family survive on rice and noodles without electricity.
The top US diplomat reiterated his “extreme concern” for the health of ousted Nigerian President Mohamed Bazoum, after the July 26 coup that resulted in his removal from power.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a phone call on Friday with Bazoum’s predecessor, former President Mahamadou Issoufou, to talk about the “deteriorating conditions” facing the embattled leader.
“The Secretary is particularly outraged by the refusal of those who have seized power in Niger to release members of the Bazoum family as a sign of good faith,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement. read from the call.
Bazoum is being held in the presidential palace in Niamey, the capital of Niger, alongside his wife, Khadiza, and one of their children, Salem.
Media reports emerged throughout the week that the family had been denied adequate food and water. Bazoum’s daughter, Zazia Bazoum, told the Guardian on Friday that her relatives survive on a dwindling supply of dry rice and pasta.
She explained that their electricity was cut off, which left the food in the refrigerator to rot after more than two weeks in confinement. She said the three detainees lost weight, with her brother’s weight dropping 10 kilograms.
“You understand that you can’t eat only rice and pasta, day and night,” Zazia Bazoum told the newspaper. “So it’s dangerous for their health. They don’t even have clean drinking water and gas [in their stove] For cooking will be over soon too.”
She believes that the coup leaders intend to force her father to sign a letter of resignation. She said, “This is torture.”
CNN reports that President Bazoum confirmed his living conditions in a series of text messages shared with the news outlet earlier this week. He has not been seen in public since he was detained by his presidential guard.
Since then, the head of the presidential guard, General Abderrahmane Chiani, has appointed himself leader of Niger’s transitional government.
Victoria Nuland, the acting US Deputy Secretary of State, was denied access to President Bazoum when she visited Niamey on Monday.
But on Wednesday, the US State Department issued a press release He said Blinken was able to speak with President Bazoum on a phone call, during which he conveyed the United States’ “continued support for a solution that returns Niger to democratic rule and constitutional order.”
Niger’s coup leaders have faced international pressure to restore Bazoum to power, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a 15-member regional bloc, confirmed on Thursday its willingness to engage in the “use of force” as a last resort.
The state utility company blamed international sanctions for the power outages in Niger. About 70 percent of the country’s electricity comes from neighboring Nigeria, which cut power following the coup. Meanwhile, food prices have soared in the wake of sanctions and the suspension of some international aid.
The recent overthrow of the government marks Niger’s fifth successful coup since the country’s independence from France in 1960.
“Travel specialist. Typical social media scholar. Friend of animals everywhere. Freelance zombie ninja. Twitter buff.”