UN Secretary-General Demands Immediate Release of Detained Niger President

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The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on Thursday, demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Nigerien President Mohammed Buzoum as military officers continue to hold the democratically-elected leader captive.

A group of dissident soldiers had on Wednesday morning detained the president after they blocked the presidential palace and ministries in the capital, Niamey.

They later appeared on national television on Wednesday night and announced that Bazoum had been removed from power and the country’s institutions suspended.

Guterres, who addressed journalists at the UN Headquarters in New York, again strongly condemned the attempted military takeover of power and the assault on the democratically elected government in Niger.

He declared the UN support for the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union to restore democracy in the landlocked country.

Guterres said he spoke with the president on Wednesday to express the UN’s full solidarity.

The UN chief addressed the coup plotters in Niger directly and demanded they stop obstructing democratic governance and respect the rule of law.

He described the events in Niger as part of a “disturbing trend” following coups in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso in recent years provoked by the rise of jihadist terror groups across the entire Sahel region.

Guterres said: “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.”